Thursday, 28 April 2016

Self Esteem, Confidence and Body Image in the Digital Age

We all have opinions on the way we look. If only my boobs were bigger. If only my stomach was flatter. If only my thighs were smaller, and my bum more round. All familiar comments spoken to ourselves in the mirror each morning, noon and night. But what if our insecurities weren't insecurities at all, and positive body image was a thing women (and men) are blessed with?

It only takes a quick peek at Instagram to see another picture of Kim Kardashian semi nude in all her perfect (photoshopped) glory. Or a glance at Twitter to see Rihanna looking like a perfectly fierce female. Forgetting in the process, that typically their accounts are managed by a PR, edited to publicity perfection, and photoshopped to goddess status. So why do we compare ourselves so much to these "perfect" celebrities - bringing ourselves down in the process?

It's becoming somewhat engrained in our DNA to be jealous, a part of human evolution to compete with everyone; whether it be professionally, personally or visually. I don't know about anyone else, but my cycle of body image jealousy looks quite a lot like this:

1 - Sees picture of a svelte Victoria's Secret model - feels bad about the fact that my only six-pack is glazed in a box in the kitchen.
2 - Wants to eat healthy to look like an adonis, but said kitchen six pack is more appealing.
3 - Eats six pack, feels even worse about self.

It's a cycle of self-loathing. A cycle furthered as mass media promises on the cover of magazines to "make your knuckles sexy" and "drink this wonder ingredient for the best belly button you've ever had." Even for the second that our brain decides to chill and just let us be at one with our bodies, the chance is someone younger, hotter, smarter or skinnier will be thrust into our face. Et voila - back at the beginning. Jealousy causing lessening self-esteem, denting our confidence, and promoting our own negative body image.

The media tells us that our outward image is what's important. We believe it. We eat it up. Of course, their image is distorted, their images photoshopped, videos edited and articles mere excerpts. But the more we are barraged with it, the more like we are to believe it. Of course, no one is merely brainwashed entirely and we do have the ability to choose what to believe in, but as society becomes more image dominated, who are we to question this large ubiquitous force?

My personal self-esteem levels and confidence are barely existent. Even understanding that the women in magazines aren't a realistic portrayal, I find myself feeling I am just a mere, unworthy mortal with my flawed skin, dark circles and the rest. I know I'm not alone in feeling inferior, its a daily struggle for many, especially young women. It would be incredible to all love our own bodies, our faces, and brains - not being told subliminally via social media, magazines etc. that we should aspire to be any different.

Imagine, if you were placed on an island tomorrow. Alone. You live there for 6 months with no one to compare yourself to. You survive. Like you have done every day up until right now. And your body? Its neither skinny, nor fat as there is nothing comparable. No one without stretch marks to make you feel that they are an imperfection. No one extremely confident to make you feel small. And your brain? It's the most damn smart brain on the island - it's keeping you strong. You are just you. You exist without a superior being to make you feel any less worthy. Whether of your own beauty, of your own strength, or your own intelligence...

Regardless of the cynicism we're fed by the media, as long as we are kind, we are worthy of love, especially that from ourselves.

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