Every time I open Snapchat’s daily news thread, there always seems be an article about perfecting the exterior you adjacent to a self-love article, encouraging happiness in your current physical state. On Monday, I’ll see a “10 Delicious Snacks To Lose Fat,” and on Tuesday, a contradictory recipe for “Double Fudge Nutella Brownies” is featured. These mixed messages leave me questioning, do I want the Victoria’s Secret model body, or do I bake and devour the molten lasagna I saw while scrolling through Facebook?
As someone who lost 40+lbs, both for my own well-being and to appease society, I personally see the positive side-effects weight loss, healthy eating, and working out have. When I look in the mirror, the idea that hard work pays off becomes tangible, I no longer am on copious amounts of medication for mental illness, and I simply feel better in my skin. Aside from just the physical transformation, my mind, body, and soul has undergone metamorphosis. I now have more determination to improve and reach goals beyond just weight loss. Instead of dreaming, I’m acting, and I’m seeing results.
But, unfortunately, I’ve seen the desire for a better body cause detrimental side effects. Today, it’s common for a person’s mind to be hijacked and warped into thinking they aren’t good enough. Off the top of my head, I know six close-friends who have struggled with anorexia and/or bulimia. And as I get closer to my goals, the idea of looking a certain way starts to consume my thoughts.
This overwhelming prevalence of negative body image in the media has sparked activists to promote “loving” your body. Media is starting to recognize that humans come in different shapes and sizes. We’re beginning to embrace the stretch marks, tummy rolls, and other “flaws” that make us unique. This movement and change in mindset is necessary and amazing. After all, if you aren’t happy now, 10lbs won’t magically turn the world around.
But there’s still a huge problem: it’s driven by the same idea already drilled into our minds: that what we see is what matters. Does no one understand that just because someone is thin, doesn’t mean their heart is happy with their habits? And just because someone is bigger, doesn’t mean their eating and exercise aren’t top-notch.
To me, loving yourself means being active, fueling your body with foods that will love you back, and maintaining mental wellness. We live in a deep-fried society that envies exteriors while shoveling chemically processed foods into our mouths, neglecting the fact that we’re slowly destroying our bodies because our priorities are in the fact that we’re “skinny" instead of “healthy."
It’s time to recognize that healthy is sexy. It’s time to model behavior that’ll strengthen as a society, not bodies that leave us envious as we continue to disrespect our own. It’s time for cultural revolution against what we know media to be, and make it what we it can be. Let’s open our eyes and mind to change. Take action, treat your body like a temple, and make mental and physical health a priority. Go beyond the physical.
So, what will you do today to love your body?