Everything that entails being born a girl child is nothing compared to the glamorous challenge of being on Instagram. Growing up, I was constantly mocked and picked upon by my relatives and teachers about my skin color and my long nose. One of my aunts had declared that I would never get a suitable match for myself as my nose is ugly and long. I was a bit bigger in size than my classmates, a non-popular girl among boys and a bold girl for neighbors to deal with.
Rejection was too difficult for me to handle. However, growing out of teenage, I learned how to carry myself and my acquired skills that started getting me love and affection as an achiever. I was reminded of my ugly duckling phase only on occasions, family gatherings and specially weddings. Routine life was more acceptable. I got comfortable in my body with time. This phase was easy.
What is been difficult is to come out of my own nonexistent body positivity social media image. I still wake up ever single day promising myself that I will reduce my calorie intake the moment I check my Instagram. I speak and I discuss calories with my friends and family. Everyone has started guessing common subjects that I will speak on during our weekend meets. Bottom line is that social media doesn’t let you forget or accept the way you are as there are these trillions of pictures posted on IG every second. That defies the basic of being body positive. It is nearly impossible to remain body positive.
Body Positive OR Body confidence. We see this term bandied about a lot but what does it mean? Especially during a time when most of us are spending our waking hours dressed professionally top half only (Zoom/ Teams ready) and wearing slippers.
Body confidence can mean different things for different people, but the consensus is that it essentially challenges oneself to accept and eventually love, the way you are today, just as you are, instead of the visceral need for “perfection”. It’s a tall order to put the blinders on and not compare ourselves to others specially with social media playing God mother.
We all look so different from one another but aim to look like one another. It’s a vicious cycle. I wish I had her skin or her legs etc. could be easily repeated several times in a few short scrolls if you’re not careful.
I have challenge myself on this point reasoning out that if you have better examples in front of you then how about body improvements? Should we not be inspired by them? Should we not make changes to our body for health reasons?
Yes, make improvements, of course! But these improvements shouldn’t ideally be founded upon self-resentment or because you want 'Salina’s' thighs. I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or reality) but there is always a possibility you won’t make it. I am speaking out of experience of constantly juggling with the issue. The goal is self-acceptance first and then improvement. Ask yourself, is it really for health purposes and self-acceptance or do I want a great bikini shot for the IG? If you’re not making changes for the right reasons reaching these goals can also bring about a deeper sense of unfulfillment and inadequacy.
I have a lovely friend, a generous soul and a cool human being, I wouldn’t name her here for obvious reasons. Her weight runs in 3 figure kilograms. For medical reasons she must lose her weight to enjoy life. However, she has given up the tough job of improving her health by losing weight to overcome medical issues and has chosen to fake it through IG. She chooses to crop and edit her pictures, add bits and parts from friends’ pictures to make her look good on social. That confirms her that she is acceptable and her medical problems take a back seat. Now this is what I feel is not the best quick fix for body positivity. Quick tricks have given her the confidence and she is our selfie queen.
With so much of technology at hand, one can fake identity. However, I am afraid that she is in total denial of need to work on her body. Her self-confidence is not real for me. In my everyday life I had (/have) people around me saying quite mean things to themselves. I think we all do. However, for this friend of mine, I can tell you with confidence that her self-confidence is REALLY high.
So, should I blame IF and FB or should I praise them, that they are keeping spirits up and confidence high with editing software’s and fake photos posted online. Joke or no joke, I found it troubling.
Whilst it’s, unfortunately, become the norm, it’s damaging to the psyche. Getting rid of it only serves the purpose of re-affirming that you’re not good enough as you are, in your own skin. Also, we each have a responsibility to ensure the generations coming up beneath us are not riddled with feelings of inadequacy. If we feed them fake images of ourselves, are we any different to the magazines that fed us all these false beauty standards whilst growing up?
I’m now thinking about whether there are longer term implications of body positivity as measured on social. It looks like there is a lot of work to do. Body positivity is as much about accepting ourselves the way we are as it is about taking care of real body needs.
It is ok to be fat, de-shape, black, wrinkled, have stretch marks but it is necessary to be fit and healthy. Barbie, brands, ramps and influencers, they have all sold unrealistic standards of beauty, fueled our body image issues, and are now making money off it.
In the disguise of Body positivity, obesity shouldn't be promoted. This is a real and serious issue with the society.
Check this video from a thoughtful journalist, WION's Palki Sharma.