Body image and positivity
Today I want to talk about body image and body positivity. Whilst these are quite expansive topics I felt it was necessary to cover these in some way with the possibility of returning to these topics later if it's needed.
Body image is something that develops very early on in life with children absorbing things that they hear around them, for example, if a parent or carer is very vocal about how they dislike their body or parts of it, the child will then believe that the part of the body is ugly and say that they also don't like that part of them. Talking about how certain foods 'make you fat' can encourage a negative perception of foods and potential demonising of food groups when that is not the most healthy approach to food. This can also lead to potentially unhealthy long-term relationships with food.
Media, in particular social media shows a vast array of unrealistic images of airbrushed celebrities that young people see and because of the people pictured in the image, or the type of image being shown, they can often find themselves being drawn into attempting to look like this person, or this style, when the pursuit of this can do a lot of damage to their body. So many times I've heard the phrase '' I want to look like X'' . The sad thing is the celebrity being idolised doesn't look like their pictures in the glossy magazines. I believe the media has a responsibility to be more representative of the variety of body shapes in society and should follow in the footsteps of France by reducing the amount (or stopping entirely) of anorexic models in fashion shows. Continuing to use incredibly underweight and unhealthy models only promotes this unhealthy image to children as the cultural/social norm when that is not what should be happening.
Body positivity can not be underestimated enough. In order to promote the health and well-being of those around us, a body positive attitude must be adopted. I am not advocating the promotion of an unhealthy lifestyle in order to protect the feelings of others in any way whatsoever. I believe that encouraging young people to remain physically active in a way that suits them is incredibly important, so that it is not a chore that they have to endure and therefore resent taking part in. If the person is not fond of team sports, Yoga is a sensible suggestion as it removes the element of competition and they only have to be concerned about themselves during the times of a yoga session.
I want to reiterate how important it is not to pass on our own hang-ups about body shape to children and young people, and that the message that body shape does not equal worth as person or make anyone less worthy of love and affection. Those in close contact with young people should be encouraging a healthy way of life and making it as fun as possible to retain engagement in physical activity. Finding activities that can be enjoyed together to make this a more attractive option than always sitting in front of a screen of some kind for leisure time is not always easy but the younger children are encouraged to remain active, the easier it will be as they grow.