Images are everywhere. On TV, in movies, Social Media, the internet, magazines, on public transport and billboards Unless you live in a cave in Outer Mongolia then photos and pictures are literally in your face, everywhere. But what is self-image about? Self-image refers to how you see your face and body. It is also about how you see yourself in terms of your personality and abilities. This post will concentrate on the physical side and its effects on self-esteem and self-worth.
While the link between having a poor self-image and low self-esteem is nothing new, it’s not going anywhere either. So here’s my take on it.
I want this post to be useful and beneficial to you and me. That said, I have added affiliate links to this article and would love it if you decide to use them. 😘
READING TIME: 10 Mins.
So, You Think You're Fat, Thin, Ugly?
What is fat, thin, ugly, beautiful? What is the perfect or ideal body or face? What are the definitions?
Day to day the images you see influence you in SO many ways and can effect your self-esteem.
Depending on your culture, friends, and family, they too will have a part to play with how you view the way you look.
When researching this subject, I saw a lot of posts about women, but I also saw articles about men too. I’m not surprised in the slightest. I mean, there are images of women AND men out there. It appears that people, in general, feel pressure to look a certain way. This includes all people and regardless of age. Most people are affected in some way or another in varying degrees.
Who Decides What Is Fat, Thin, Ugly or Beautiful?
Have you really thought about that? Pondered it? I have. It’s the most bizarre thing ever.
And here’s why.
Country And Culture
Take the country and culture you were born in. You’ll have a different opinion on body image growing-up and living in Brazil than in the UK. In fact, people from the Western world are very self-conscious about their bodies. They find self-acceptance of how they look difficult.
Brazilians are much more relaxed about their bodies regardless of having cellulite, stretch marks, or a belly. They just don’t care and thank goodness they don’t because it is SO hot there. Less clothing equals feeling cooler in a very hot country.
I do realise I am generalising here.
But my point is this.
Depending on where you’ve grown up will depend on how you view your body and looks. You’ve been told what is acceptable and what is not. What is ugly and what is beautiful. You’ve been programmed from the moment you came into the world. And you hold those programs in your subconscious. The subconscious programs will influence what you think of your body and face. Consciously you will then behave according to those subconscious programs.
Behave covers a multitude of things here. From whether you work relentlessly for a six-pack or to lose weight. How much make-up you wear. If you wear make-up. To the clothes you choose and how you style your hair.
Imagine an alien came to Earth and asked what is beautiful? And the alien was asking people from different cultures, they would all give him different answers.
That would be one confused alien reporting back to his planet.
Time Travelling To The Perfect Body
Depending on what time period (or decade) you were born will also have an influence on what is “in” and acceptable with regard to body image.
I’m writing this at a time where the fashionable and acceptable way to look for women is to have a flat stomach, healthy-looking skin, and large breasts and butts. (Think Kim Kardashian). And this has been the case since the beginning of the noughties.
My Mum was horrified when I used to go out with a pencil skirt on and no tights or stockings. You see, when she was growing-up you just didn’t do that. Different decade, different view.
Many articles are written on the changes throughout history with regard to the “ideal women’s body and looks”. Having a plump full figure with a cinched waist in Victorian England you would be seen as the “perfect” shaped woman. But, let’s imagine that the 1960s waif model known as Twiggy time-traveled to 1860.
Twiggy would not have been seen as “perfect” and “beautiful” by anyone. I can assure you though in the 1960s that is exactly what she was seen as. Women were influenced to attain that willowy, adolescent physique.
Just for a laugh, let us time travel again and take the 1950s and the 1990s.
A woman from the 1950s pops out of a time machine into the 1990s. The 1990s “perfect” look was extremely thin with pale and translucent skin. The woman from the 1950s would have been called fat or overweight with her hourglass figure, slim waist, and large breasts in the 1990s.
So, if you are born at a different point in time then you will have different ideas and opinions on what is okay and what is not when it comes to body image.
Happy with how you look? Great, good to hear!
But it’s not great if you’re not happy, and you spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy trying to force yourself to look a certain way. Just to be the flavor of the decade.
Worse, you feel inadequate, horrible and have low self-esteem and/or low self-worth.
People Who Influence People
Friends, family, and work colleagues either directly or indirectly influence us. By what they say, how they behave, and how they look.
I can remember when I didn’t have a Rah-rah skirt. Every self-respecting girl had a Ra Ra skirt in the eighties, or so I believed at the time. I was devastated but my Mum just couldn’t afford to get me one. I was very upset because all my friends had one and I felt left out and frumpy.
Eventually though my Mum made me a bright red Rah-rah skirt, which I loved. (Cheers Mum.)
A daft example because I was young and had no idea I was being influenced by my peers and the fashion media. If I’m really honest, even when I got much older, I was still swayed by what my crowd of friends thought was “in”.
I’m sure it wouldn’t have bothered me half as much if my self-esteem and self-worth hadn’t been so low.
When it comes to people influencing me it was always my friends, not so much my family. My Mum was cool. (She just didn’t like me getting cold legs. LOL).
The Media And Body Image
The media, internet, magazines, shops, movies, TV and Social Media effect all of us.
Cosmopolitan magazine, TV shows, and movies had a big effect on me. That effect meant buying clothes, spray tan, make-up, getting my hair cut, and gym memberships, amongst other things. I was a twenty-something and in the age of the supermodel. Cindy Crawford and Elle “The Body” McPherson were huge icons back then. You had to have long hair, flat stomach, toned arms, athletic but slim. A splash of a supermodel and a dash of the all American girl was the order of the day.
Jeez. I had no chance.
If I’d have known then what I know now….blah blah. But I didn’t and I do now. Attaching myself to these ideals to prove my worth was ludicrous.
I can laugh about it now though. I mean really laugh about it especially when I see old photos. Big hair, big shoulders (shoulder pads, that is), and big earrings. Hilarious.
You can’t do anything or go anywhere without being constantly being bombarded with images. The models, actors, TV presenters in these mediums all influence us when it comes to how we look.
The famous author and worldwide speaker Deepak Chopra gave his explanation on the difference between self-esteem and self-image as follows:
“There is a difference between self-esteem and self-image. The reason people have all this plastic surgery is because they have actually forgotten themselves and are identifying themselves with their self-image. The real Self within you is beneath no one. It’s immune to criticism and it’s fearless. Do not confuse your image with your Self- your self-image is what other people think of you, and your Self (esteem) is what you think of you.”Deepak Chopra
Good point Deepak.
Is It Any Wonder With ALL These Influences That You May Have Body Image Issues?
From what I’ve said so far, it’s clear to me that the opinion on whether a body or face is perfect or ideal is a matter of perception. For all the reasons I’ve already mentioned.
It’s important to realise then, that there is no definitive definition to what is fat, thin, ugly or beautiful.
How can there be when there are so many different cultures and people giving different ideas on their ideal body image or face?
It is a matter of Perception.
I ask again: Who decides what is fat, thin, ugly or beautiful?
That means that you are as beautiful and lovely as you believe you are. And if you do not believe that way right now, it’s okay. Because there are ways to change that:
- Stop buying-in to the Illusion that is fed to you
- If you are struggling with accepting yourself then that usually points to having low self-esteem and/or low self-worth
- Low self-esteem and low self-worth are internal and how you PERCEIVE yourself in your mind.
- PERCEPTION is what you interpret through your senses (see, hear, touch, taste, smell).
Senses are created in your mind by you.
- These PERCEPTIONS are ILLUSIONS in your mind.
IMPORTANT: I’m not saying that your fear, or self-worth issues are not real. (Mine were very real to me.). Illusion does not mean it is not real for you.
It means your illusion can be changed.
In other words.
Change your PERCEPTION and you can change your PERSPECTIVE (your way of seeing yourself).
Change your PERCEPTION AND YOU CAN CHANGE ALMOST ANYTHING.
Crazy Comparisons Will Drive You Crazy
I know comparing is something most of us do. Even if you know it doesn’t do you any good. Not comparing yourself is something you can practice. I’ve been doing that for a while and if or when I catch myself doing it, I become aware and stop. That way I retain my peace of mind and remain content.
Start to do this now, you CAN:
- Stop comparing yourself with others and start accepting yourself as you are.
- Get rid of those old programs in your subconscious and start caring for and forgiving yourself.
By adopting self-acceptance, self-care and self-compassion you will be well on your way to having high self-worth and self-esteem.
I know that is easier said than done BUT it can be done with a variety of different options and tools.
If you don’t know who you are (really know who you are). And you have low self-esteem and self-worth then others (and other things) will influence you and pull you onto their path.
The legendary Jim Rohn (famous author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker) is famous for his inspiring quotes and this one says it all:
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
What is self-image about seems clear to me. It is about you and how you see yourself. My suggestion? Get to know what is going on in your mind and with your beliefs about yourself and change what is not beneficial or limiting. Know Yourself.
Stop trying to be so lovable. You do not need to be “perfect” to be loved. You need to fall in love with yourself.
The name of The Game is Experience so let us experience Connecting and Sharing.
Comment below on how you feel about self-image.
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