"It’s so pernicious. It’s everywhere – there’s a spoken and sometimes unspoken, very defined, body image ideal that’s put forward"

Mental Health Awareness Week

The main change for me has been a focus from, ‘What does my body look like?’ to ‘How do I feel? How can I best take care of myself? What do I need to feel well?’

 

As I’m getting older, I’m really enjoying becoming more aware of how the pressure put on us by society affects me personally because it gives me the choice to experience that or not.

It’s so pernicious. It’s everywhere. In all the media you consume – the TV you watch, adverts, books, posters, people you see, even the people who get to be celebrities – there’s a spoken and sometimes unspoken, very defined, body image ideal that’s put forward. Which of course creates an idea that there are other bodies that are not ideal. Both men and women experience it.

I’m most comfortable in my body right now. I have relaxed into myself. I feel I have a greater sense of self. Understanding who I am has allowed me to have space between the messages I get from the outside to how I actually feel.

The main change for me has been a focus from, ‘What does my body look like?’ to ‘How do I feel? How can I best take care of myself? What do I need to feel well?’

I also made a conscious choice to follow body positive accounts on Instagram and play an active part in that conversation. Being able to see other bodies and their beauty makes a huge difference.

Some periods of ill health have really helped me be more loving to myself and grateful for what my body can do – especially when I feel strong and healthy.

The holistic appreciation of my body has hugely helped me. And allowing myself to look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, I think you’re beautiful,” is helping me. If you cut yourself down into parts and compare yourself with others, you’ll never be enough.

I also started paying more attention to what is sparked in me when I see a beautiful woman – it is partly physical features but it is also more about her energy, character, and personality.

Increased presence and mindfulness in terms of the physical sensations in my body has reminded me how much kinder I am to other people than I am to myself. 

I have this negative voice in my head. I think it’s quietening down. I feel like it’s a life-long process. I think the more aware of it I am, the kinder I can be to myself and my own response. That pause between the voice and when you decide, “How do I act on this?” is important.