Is it easy to love yourself and still be obsessed with social media? Who do you aspire to look like? What is your ideal body shape? Do you only aspire to look that way because of what men think? Do you find yourself feeling feelings of jealousy when you look at people on the gram?
For me the answers go something like. No, anyone with a toned stomach and big bum from the gym with no bingo wings, sometimes yes and fuck yes. These feelings comes and go.
I grew up around and in household of black women who were curvaceous, with boobs and a bum. If I didn’t look like both of my parents, I would’ve sworn blind that I was adopted, because I don’t look like the rest of my family and I certainly grew up thinking that I didn’t have the body that black women were ‘supposed’ to have. I am 5’1, what would be known in the Caribbean community as ‘marga’ which means I ain’t got no breasts or batty… unless I go to the gym. As I became older and went through secondary school it just became more apparent to me, as well as having my cousin terrorise me. I can laugh about it now, although my Grandma still tells me in the most loving way that I’ve got a ‘likkle batty’.
Traditionally in the Caribbean, being bigger is healthy. I was always the child they would fatten up when I went to visit on holiday. I laugh about it now because I am way more secure in myself, but that definitely created insecurities in my younger self. I have no idea how many people have gone through the same things or similar experiences, but what I do know is that women face massive pressure to look a certain way to please others. I also found as I grew that black women really did not have 1 particular shape, there are many and all are beautiful.
When I was about 10, being skinny and having no prominent features was promoted by the media. Fast forward I’m now 26 the complete opposite is all the range unless you aspire to be a Victoria’s Secret model. Even then I think Kim Kar(culture)dashian could swoop in and do a madness on the catwalk. Anything is possible these days.
I’ve ended up finding more security within myself because I found that I am enough. If I could change anything about myself it would be my teeth – although I’ve had braces I would like veneers because they are square white and shiny. Although I would change my teeth they don’t stop me from grinning and smiling, they are a small insecurity. Insecurities are normal and okay, as long as they don’t stop you from living your life.
We need to recognise that our value doesn’t decrease based on how we look or how smart we may be. Not everyone will appreciate me or like me and that is something I’ve had to learn to accept, that you cannot and will not be liked by everyone. It’s about creating my own value. To say I feel like this 24/7 would be a lie, I do take social media breaks and I do question my validity every now and then because my phone is glued to my hand. I wish photos came with a disclaimer to every filter and airbrush app used on my bad days.
We are collectively becoming more susceptible to Body Dysmorphia Disorder, a mental illness that is most common in teens and young adults. BDD is where a person will spend a lot of their time worrying about their appearance. They can also obsess over flaws in their features unnoticeable to another person. Signs of possible body dysmorphia are as follows:
- Preoccupation with physical appearance, similar to anorexia nervosa and bulimia
- Belief that one has an abnormality or defect in appearance that makes her ugly
- Frequently looking in the mirror
- Avoiding mirrors altogether
- Believing that others take special notice of ones appearance in a negative way
- Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
- Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking
- Feeling extremely self-conscious
- Refusing to appear in pictures
- Skin picking
- Comparing appearance with that of others
- Avoiding social situations
- Wearing excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
Why do we let other people influence and dictate to us what beauty is? Why is beauty portrayed at just looks and not brains? Why do we let the media and memes tell us what we should do with ourselves and how we should be? How do we form opinions? Think back to someone you consider more beautiful than yourself and ask yourself why you believe you are not equal to them?
I think we need to destruct social concepts and popular ideals about the standard of what beauty is because all types of beauty should be popular. Change only happens when a collective come together. Message someone and let them know how beautiful they are.