“Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.”
What is your idea of a great body?
I like to think that a great body is a healthy body.
But before you blitz up some spinach and slam down a smoothie, let me define health.
According to the World Health Organisation, health is:
“A complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Notice there are three elements to consider?… Somewhere along the line our primitive brains decided that health is defined by 6 packs and long lean legs. If we just drink enough smoothies and do plenty of ab crunches, we will wake up looking like Elle McPherson, Miranda Kerr, Karlie Kloss, (whoever your girl crush may be!).
Have you ever gone on a mission to lose weight? How did it make you feel? Did you become very critical of yourself and everything you ate?
A wise teacher and exceptional communicator once gave me some feedback. She started out by saying,
“Janelle, this is just my opinion, everybody has an opinion, just like everyone has a nose…”
Her feedback was very constructive but she gave me an option as to whether I took it on board.
Ever stopped for a moment and listened to the opinion you have of yourself? Was it critical, or constructive? What about opinions brought to you by marketing and the fashion industry? As a result of these opinions, did you question your body and end up falling short? Or did you question the marketing suggestion on what may be considered a great body, and thrive!?
Looking back through the ages, bodies accepted by society and the fashion & entertainment world have changed. Marilyn Monroe, what an icon! Does her body match up to those featured in clothing advertisements today? Nope.
So how much of what is considered a great body is opinion and how much is fact?
Did you know that less than 10% of the world is fact? The rest is totally based on opinion!! Wowzers! Let’s think about it, we need food, water, shelter… and some other basic essentials but having a 6 pack and long lean legs are pretty low on the list of survival.
And have you ever argued with someone about the colour of something? What is colour anyway? If we’re getting technical, colour is the property of an object and the way it reflects or emits light, which produces different sensations on the eye. I say it’s pink, you say it’s red…
Depending on where you’re standing, things take on a different perspective.
Is the opinion you have on your body starting to improve now? Lucky for us, we have evolved from our primitive state, and therefore have the ability to question our thoughts and the opinions of others.
Turn down all the noise and scale it back to reveal your values, a deep seated and very special personal regulation system.
You can alter what you accept and what you don’t.
Fact, I am not 6 foot tall. Fiction, being 6 foot tall is beautiful, therefore I should be 6 foot tall or I’m not beautiful…
If you choose to accept that opinion, you might be sabotaging your health. Is it giving you mental wellbeing or is it making you frustrated because you’re never going to be 6 foot tall and your name isn’t Elle McPherson.
I feel frustrated just looking at that bunch of sentences!
Here’s a clever concept I’d like to share with you, compare = despair. This was introduced to me by a friend and I’ve found it really helpful. And hey, this equation is just an opinion. Comparison may induce anxiety but sometimes it motivates us to become a better version of ourselves! The trick is not to fall into the trap of despair.
So before you hit the beach this summer, check in with your value system. Are your opinions keeping you healthy? Do you need long lean legs and a 6 pack to have fun? In my own humble opinion, no way!
NB: If you happen to have long lean legs, please don’t think I’m criticising you and saying that being short is better, maybe you don’t like being tall!
No worries, here’s the really good news, we don’t ask elephants in the animal kingdom to grow wings and fly like an eagle, each creature has their own strengths. So why would we ask ourselves to be something we are not?
Embrace the features bestowed upon you and work on that healthy trifecta, physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Have fun this summer!
For more goodness on body image, check out The Illusive Femme’s Fashion Intervention