What would you change about your body? For most, this question can be answered with a physical attribute, namely one that we feel draws unwanted attention to ourselves. We grow up in a world where appearance is of utmost importance, and acceptance is contingent upon fitting in with standard ideals of beauty. When any of our traits falter from perfection, we seek to change them.
Throughout BC’s annual Love Your Body Week, which concludes this Friday, students are asked to “consider their relationships with their bodies.” Using a variety of programs and resources, the Women’s Center promotes healthy body image by hosting this eventful week. Though Love Your Body Week reminds us to celebrate our uniqueness, it also teaches us to be wary of the harsh ways by which we criticize ourselves.
We’ve all seen Dove’s Real Beauty videos, in which individuals’ insecurities are denounced, and they are told they are Bruno Mars-style beautiful. A new approach to promoting a healthy self-image is seen in the video “Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question," which asks both adults and children, “If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?” While adults answered with expected responses, such as forehead size and stretch marks, the children took a different perspective, listing attributes like a shark mouth and a mermaid tail.
This video highlights the unfortunate notion of wanting to hide our bodies as we grow older. In our younger years, we saw our bodies as something to show off, as seen through the responses from the kids in the video. However, as our quest for perfection became prevalent in adolescence, our bodies soon became projects in need of change.
As we aged, our perception of ourselves changed, usually for the worst. No longer are we ignorant to distorted reality in the media and how it affects our self-image. We are taught to mask our flaws through an Instagram filter or cover up a blemish with the Snapchat text bar.
When does this transformation from loving our bodies to wanting to change them occur? Is it when middle school girls are told not to wear clothing they feel comfortable in by a paranoid administration? When high schoolers are told by a coach to lose weight? Maybe it’s in college, where sororities and fraternities base acceptance predominantly on looks. Subtle hints of the need to look a certain way eventually lead to destructive and distorted thinking.
When we hide our bodies, we hide parts of ourselves. Therefore, when our body image is negative, so is our self worth. Thinking we are physically inferior leads to thinking we are inferior in other regards as well.
Unfortunately, the BC culture only encourages this distorted thinking by feeding into the pressure of sticking to the status quo, an idea that is hard to escape. Because the goal is to fit in, we learn that drawing attention to ourselves is a negative thing. The need for acceptance often overshadows the desire to break the BC stereotype, which only supports conformity, and thus, the need to change if expectations are not met.
However, like it or not, we all have multiple imperfections—some that can’t be corrected. The solution is not to hide flaws, but to celebrate them instead.
Programs such as Love Your Body Week allow us to see the power of embracing who we truly are. The ugly truth is that we all have flaws, and that we will end up being judged for them at some point. However, if we are taught to have the self-confidence to love our bodies, each so-called flaw will become irrelevant. It is critical that we take advice from the self-confidence queen, Beyoncé, and first accept our bodies, flaws and all, in order to see ourselves as “Flawless.”