Black or white what are you? Your answer will depend... on whether you are happy with your God given physical attributes.
Body image to me is very connected to skin colour, body weight and other physical attributes. When I was a teen, I had horrible view of my body. Most of which came about because some adults in my extended family constantly told me negative things about my physical attributes. Read them here. What helped me cope was simple: I had no choice but to live with those scars. But when you constantly hear a single story about a person or a group of people, you start to believe what you hear. Listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adochie's speech on the Dangers of a Single Story.
After surviving my teenage years, below is a list of what you can do to cope with a poor body image:
- Be selective about your friends: Surround yourself with only people who build up your positive attributes. No need to try to impress snobs. If only one friend finds your company delightful, then be a good friend to that person.
- Focus on the positive: No matter how unfortunate looking we believe we are, we are good at other things. If we focus on those things, people will appreciate and praise those things. This will boost our self esteem greatly. For example, if you know how to draw really cool cartoon characters, enter a contest online. You may surprise yourself and discover that the definition of you is more than your looks. Maybe you have a great smile. Then, smile more often. You will be surprised how much prettier you become when you smile.
- Set goals for your self. Take up a good hobby. Learning to do something else like volunteering to help older ones, children or your peers will take your mind off the obsession with yourself. When you accomplish new things you gain confidence as a person.
- Accept your body: There is nothing you can do (for the most part) about a part of your body that you don't like. For example, accept that as a teenager, you are supposed to look awkward. Curves may be too pronounced or not pronounced enough etc... It is normal to feel this way at this age. But, when you pass your teenage years, you can and should accept that you are probably going to look/feel like miss universe. Trust me. I know this.
- Dress appropriately. So, this is where a bit of studying your body will be helpful. Learn your size and wear clothes that flatter you body type. I will be posting about this later. No point in wearing clothes that are too tight or too baggy. Enhance your best attributes while distracting from your least attractive attributes.
- Don't rush your body: Along the lines of accept your body, there is a new trend for young adults to reconstruct their bodies to fit what the media tells us is beautiful. People are on the hunt to get Kim Kardashian type bodies. They are undergoing plastic surgeries earlier in life and suffering the horrible consequences when they age. If you must alter your appearance due to some medical problem, then it is ok. But if your are in a rush to give your body a certain appearance, you may regret it as you may find you are addicted to your personal mutilation. Not to mention the nastiness that follows when gravity takes a hold of your body. Just ask these celebs. So, don't rush.
- Celebrate and reward yourself: Why would anyone want to make celebrities their idols of good looks? Super stars and celebrities are not like you: They have lots of money and tons of help to keep looking they way they do. When you are stressed out with school, work and having babies, they are not so much. They get live-in nannies and get their personal assistant to get them their daily coffee and manage their lives. Then after, they head to the spa to "destress". OMG, a monkey would look flawless if they had all that money too. So, give yourself a break and go out to enjoy yourself. Celebrate yourself. Your life and your personal achievements are just as worthy of celebration. I guarantee you no ones is going to celebrate you. Only you can do that.
- Be careful what you watch on TV and on the internet: The kind of TV programs you watch on the TV and internet is full of images that can make you feel worse about yourself. So, be selective. Avoid things that don't make you feel positive until you are emotionally stronger. Or Never watch them at all.
- Time: If you put in the time to challenge negative thought processes and reverse them, you will see a difference. Take the time to truly, truly practice the steps above. If you don't find them all helpful, take what works, modify it, use it. After that, you need to give yourself time as well. It will take time for things to improve. Watch this beautiful young girl explain how it works.
For most of us who are just going through the "normal" stages of growing pains, this phase will pass. I promise you. It does get better..... But if you are finding it difficult to motivate yourself or to challenge negative thought processes. Or if you find your thoughts become suicidal, read this. Then seek help.
Write me a comment. Send me an e-mail and tell me whether these tips helped you.