By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor
If I were to create an anonymous survey to measure the insecurities from all different types of body sizes, I bet they would all have one thing in common: negative feelings about at least one physical feature they wish were better.
We seem to feel these insecurities in the first place because our society has conditioned us to believe that our success and our happiness are dependent on our attractiveness. Growing up, I never saw myself as a small girl. A sibling who didn’t know better teased me about how my body grew in comparison to hers. Those awkward occurrences left me feeling different and stuck with me for many years into my early adulthood, and I began a vicious circle of comparing myself to superstars. But these superstars were hand-picked by the warped industry that chose what American beauty entailed. Although my parents were always there to convince me I was enough, I was still comparing people to one another. This habit of judging others formed into my head as something “every girl does.” It turned me into a jealous and narcissistic feeling human. But eventually, I moved out and wasn’t surrounded by hate but rather by loving friends that showed me it’s not only cooler, but much easier to be nice and understanding than hateful and judgmental.
Celebrities are just some of the most powerful people in our culture. Whether it’s for political reasons or advertising, they’re representing our population. If we’re living in a world surrounded by advertisements, we want to see a reflection of ourselves in people we relate to. But then that becomes the problem.
There is a lack of relatable people when it comes to body image and there is a lot of discussion around the absence of size-inclusive models right now. We also need to keep in mind that the most important relationship we have in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. To help me stay in tune with this mindset, I sought out people that I could call role models.
For instance, I recently discovered Danielle Brooks’ Instagram page and I cannot stop feeling inspired to love myself more. She is not only an actress in the most watched Netflix series, Orange Is The New Black, but is also the ambassador of The 67% Project which is the promotion of the 67% of women who are considered plus-size while only 2% are seen in movies and/or magazines. It promotes beauty and strength through body positivity. Brooks posts plenty of candid content but this particular video of her at the gym stood out to me the most. She spoke about how she used to be so hard on herself and it would constantly bring her down until she realized you couldn’t compare yourself to anyone because that’s how you lose your confidence. Comparing yourself to another body shape will get you nowhere because you should only compare yourself to the person you were before and recognize how far you’ve gotten.
Body image, eating disorders or any sort of mental health can affect anyone at anytime, no matter your age, gender, or sexuality. And although I can’t get the years back that I spent self-loathing and jealous, I can continue to surround myself with influential people, like champion of body diversity and a professional model, Iskra Lawrence, who was trained to be an ambassador for The Body Project by the National Eating Disorder Association of the United States. Later working with Aerie by American Eagle and the untouched lingerie campaign, Lawrence came up with an idea to label images of models that were untouched and created NEDA Inspires Seal of Approval, which is a inclusive representation that promotes healthy body image.
We need to embrace and redefine the beauty ideal by celebrating our every achievement, the personalities we have, and recognizing how far we’ve come. I consistently check myself and try hard to be more self-aware by engaging in these sorts of conversations. We’re good enough already.
Featured image by Alexandra Cochran.