Body Image and Why We're All Brainwashed
“If I ever gained weight I would die”
“I used to look so good, now I’m just flabby and disgusting”
“I definitely don’t have the body to pull that off”
“Oh, I’m basically cutting out that entire food group until I lose this weight”
“Omg, It’s already May. I’m totally not ready for swim suit season yet”
These are recent quotes from friends, family, co-workers and strangers. No, scratch that. Not quotes- bullshit. THIS IS ALL BULLSHIT and I wish that I could say that these are the only examples I can think of… But multiply these statements by ten and then intersperse them throughout every single day. These statements are cruel. They’re impractical. They’re ridiculous. But they’re normal- And this is a huge problem.
We are all standing in front of the cracked mirror of an aesthetically delusional society, disguised behind the mask of “health”, “self improvement” and “discipline”.
How often do we listen to others speak disparagingly of their appearances? Not thin or pretty enough. Not toned or strong enough. How often do we speak or think about ourselves in this way? The average woman spends 21 minutes of her day thinking negative body image thoughts. That’s an entire year, over the course of a lifetime.
Who is responsible for this colossal waste of precious time? Mainstream media. We have all been brainwashed to believe that beauty equals morality. “Beauty”, being a narrow and contrived standard for both males and females. Think of any main character, hero or heroine, in a movie. Most, if not all of them perfectly match a body image ideal. Even characters in classic Disney movies will likely fit the societal standard of “beautiful”. If they don’t, it’s because they’re one of the “bad” characters like Cinderella’s ugly step sisters.
We have all been subconsciously programmed from childhood to be self-conscious and critical of our appearances.
Why? Because the beauty, fitness and diet industry know that they can make a killing from our self loathing. The weightless industry makes 60 billion dollars a year, in America alone. Who’s ACTUALLY profiting when we spend money on diet plans, skinny teas, body enhancements, pills, etc.? All of these products are designed to fail, disappoint or addict, leaving us desperate and wanting more. Below, I’ve illustrated the fuckery of diets:
Be critical of everything. If you are inclined to buy into any kind of consumerism, based on a feeling of your own inadequacy, question the hell out of it.
What is the result of all this?
Delusion and insidious insecurity. Diet culture and body shaming have become dangerously normalized. I remember being at the very lowest point of my eating disorder- Thirty pounds underweight, unhealthy in all ways, but still being praised by friends for how thin I was. Congratulated and encouraged for having a potentially fatal mental illness- how fucked up is that? Body shaming and insecurity is passed around like a disease. What chance does a ten year old girl have when her mother, older sisters, aunts and friends casually criticize their bodies as if they were talking about the weather? The same goes for men. We all hold a rigid and unreasonable standard of beauty, coupled with rigid and unreasonable ways of achieving an appearance ideal that we only think will make us happy.
So, what can we do about it? Notice and question the thoughts we have about our bodies:
Who is telling you the lie that your body is “wrong” or needs “fixing”? (Media and marketing or the people in your life effected by it)
Are the narrow definitions of physical beauty an indication of true health? (Hell no)
Will fitting a specific definition of “beauty” make you a better person? (NO)
Will being thinner, stronger, prettier, taller or leaner bring true, lasting happiness? (NO)
Are there more meaningful things we could be focusing on? (YES, like living our god damn lives)
Physical beauty is temporary and subjective. We are all infinitely more complex than our reflections in the mirror. It’s time that we open our eyes to the damage of our collective insecurity- the physical and mental harm caused by constantly trying to achieve contrived ideals. It’s imperative that we question what we're told so that we can start to see and focus on what really matters.