This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is Body Image. How we think and feel about our bodies can really affect our mental health. We live in a world that has a strong focus on the way we look and it’s something that can affect us on a day-to-day basis.
From advertisements to social media, we can end up spending so much time comparing ourselves to unattainable looks. This has been taken to the extreme in recent years, with photoshopped and unnaturally perfect plastic bodies staring back at us on every screen we look at.
It’s important to have a positive relationship with your body. Community and inclusion can be like nourishment for our mental health. Our bodies are beautiful, each and every one, with all of our uniqueness and quirks.
Opening up takes real bravery and courage, but in doing so, you could help yourself and even those around you. So we asked our members to share their thoughts on body image and body positivity. The responses we’ve received have been really inspiring, and we’re so pleased to be able to share them with you. It’s not easy to open up about mental health, and we are so grateful to everyone who does.
Together, we can remove the stigma around mental health. By discussing it and normalising it, opening up and speaking up, we can learn to love our bodies.
Anna of SpannaCantwell
“Society is a strangeun. We celebrate when people lose weight more than when they receive a promotion at work. We pay people compliments on their appearance rather than their kindness. We write people off becoming our friends or tinder dates based on a ‘bad’ profile picture instead of the fact they openly put their interests as ‘misogynist’ or ‘animal poacher’. Naturally over the years I’ve had my own qualms about my body. Too big, too little, too wobbly, too pale, stretch marks, spots, hair. All sorts! But there have been a few things that have taught me to become at peace with my body which I’ve shared on my blog in the hope that it may help someone else.”
Read more from Anna in her post on being body kind.
Julia of What A Waste Collective
“I’m seriously proud of myself and honestly appreciate my body and what it has given me. I mean I made and bought a life into this world! My mum tum would not be what it is without my miracle rainbow child!”
Check out Julia’s favourite IG post on body positivity for more inspiration.
Megan of Megan Elizabeth Lifestyle
“When I first started blogging and discovered social media, I noticed a drop in my body confidence. There was this seemingly ‘ideal’ body image everywhere and as I didn’t look like that, I thought I wouldn’t be able to blog and have an Instagram account. I also have Neurofibromatosis, and have café au lait marks on my body (freckling), and while they really aren’t very noticeable, I had a distorted perception of them.
However, as I discovered more of the blogging community, as well as going through some events in my personal life and reading Notes on Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (life changing book), I realised that we are all different and should be proud of that.
Just recently, I received a Crohn’s diagnosis and seeing Crohn’s bloggers just being themselves and happy has further inspired me. What’s more, this diagnosis has been a wake up call and I am being much healthier. I think as long as we are treating our bodies with respect, no matter our shape or size, then that’s what counts.”
Read more from Megan in her post on body confidence.
Sophie of Ethical Fashion
“Body image is such an important part of self-identity and influencing positive or negative thought patterns. It can be extremely damaging to an individual’s mental health when the media portrays only a narrow-subset of the population, unconsciously telling us to conform to an unrealistic, unachievable version of beauty.
Lately I’ve been practising completely reducing the importance of appearance (a bit contradictory in the fashion industry) and focussing on true expressions of beauty like expressions of happiness, generosity and appreciation of beauty. This mental shift can really change how you view the world, and yourself in it.”
Read more from Sophie in her post on body positivity.
Luisa of Online Personal Stylist
“We hear so much in the news and on social media about mental health, but few would connect negative feelings of body image issues with mental health issues.
It’s common to have good days and bad days. Almost everybody has times when they feel happy with their appearance and other times, when they just generally have a bad day. But when your negative feelings about your body image are preventing you from feeling happy within yourself and stop you from wearing certain clothes and participating in activities, it might be a bigger problem than you might have thought.
I remember reading a great quote in (ironically) a juice diet book a few years ago. In the end I thought better than to give into that fad diet pressure of the time and try the diet. Instead, I read the book and took one great piece of advice from it: ‘Use your body, exercise and live healthily because you can. Think about all the people who would love to be in your position, who’d love to be able to go for a walk or enjoy a game of tennis, but can’t!‘
I think this applies to all areas of life, but I’m going to word it a little differently. Instead of just applying it to health and fitness, I think it can be applied to everything in our lives: ‘do because we can and be thankful for what we have!‘”
Read more from Luisa in her guide to body positivity.
Sue of Future Fashions and Ethics
“‘Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself‘ – Coco Chanel
I like this quote because I believe that being yourself and not worrying what others think of you is essential. I don’t have the perfect body, but who does? I don’t wear makeup apart from mascara, I have always had people tell me I look young for my age and how attractive I am, and I believe it is because I am myself naturally.”