Body image has been a topic of issue in many people’s lives, including mine. However, it has taken a different toll on my mind and mental health during the initial lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s my journey to the true art of loving your body the way it is.
Getting That “Quarantine Body”
TikTok, the most popular and influential app of the decade has taken over the lives of many. It captures me in a daze of endless scrolling throughout the day and night. Full of comedy, dance, music and entertainment, this was the app that filled most of my time during lockdown/quarantine in early March through May. One specific topic of videos I started to notice people were making, were workout videos and showing their quarantine “glow-up”. They were posting content about getting a “quarantine body”.
Initially, I was fascinated by these so called “glow-up” videos. I would jot down ideas and ways to “fix” my body. After many tries at it, I felt frustrated at not seeing any results. Even though there was a change in my body, I was always picking out something that I felt was wrong with it. I was absent-mindedly doing so many things that I thought would “fix” my body, not realizing that there was nothing that needed to be fixed.
I wanted to look like the girls I was seeing on my phone rather than appreciating the person I saw in the mirror every day. What I did not realize was the effect that it was going to have on my mind and perception of myself.
Making The Change
Like I stated before, I did not realize how harmful this action was to my mental health. I started catching myself comparing how I looked to other girls on social media. Every morning, I woke up with low self-esteem and anxiety. I ended up deleting social media entirely off my phone after a few days of feeling upset and would not step outside for any reason. (Since we were in lockdown, this part felt even more scarier.)
What I also started to notice, were the comments under the TikTok videos I was seeing. Many of these entailed videos of beauty and fashion had comments underneath saying things like “Why do I even bother breathing?”, or “I’m going to stop eating now.” I was upset and disheartened that there were a handful of girls- young and old- that were doubting how they looked and felt the need to comment such things. Here is where I started to make a change.
When A Realization Hit
I stumbled upon a woman named Victoria Garrick who is an influencer. I was expecting to see another video of her body change but instead, she was promoting the body she already had. This led me to go on her page and look at all her videos where she was explaining the fallacies of social media. “Maybe there is nothing wrong with your body and society/diet culture has fed you lies.” I came to a realization that a lot of words I heard on TikTok were concepts I didn’t even know existed until society told me I had to work on it.
For example, this concept of “hip dips” struck me. Previously, I saw a video on this girl working specifically in the target area of what she called “hip dips” and that was the first time I heard that word or phrase. I immediately thought I had to work on my own hip dips and became conscious of it right off the bat. I came to this conclusion that our body image is severely affected by what we see on social media, and that a lot of times it’s just a strategy to feed you lies.
Since that day, I have learned a lot about body image, social media toxicity and diet culture. It is okay to want to be fit and workout. However, you should not be working out because you hate your body and that you’re only pretty in one way. Beauty is from within and you look amazing the way you are right now! You should workout to feel energized, motivated and because it gives you good vibes.
Love yourself instead of loving the idea of others loving you. This is a motto that I have lived by since the day I decided to make a change. You control what you think, how you think it and what you’re going to do about it. We don’t realize how fabricated Instagram posts can be and forget the many little edits people use to enhance their photos.
We should not be commenting things about our body image on social media that doubt our abilities and our looks! If someone compliments you, say thank you instead of denying it. It is really common for us to reject the idea that we actually look good when someone says something nice about us.
You Are Never Alone
An important aspect to remember is that you are NEVER alone. It was hard for me to grasp that at first because everyone else looked fine but I soon found out a lot of people felt this way, but never expressed it. It is completely okay to feel this way because as humans, we have emotions too. It is always helpful to talk about your feelings with someone who you can trust and are close with.
When you stop picking at everything you see in yourself and replace it with positivity, it can change your life. What you see as a flaw, can be the most beautiful thing to another person. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you look no matter what anyone says!
Body image should be normalized and accepted in all kinds of cultures! Every color, size, is beautiful and is what makes this world a better place.