If I asked you to tell me what body image was to you, what would you say?
“It’s how I look”
“It’s how I feel about how I look”
“It’s being thin”
A quick Google of the definition gives you everything from:
“a person’s feelings of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body, which may be forced onto them by others or social media” (good old Wikipedia) to
“how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind” (NEDA).
If you search for “body image” on Pinterest or Google images then amongst the usual posts about loving your body more, there’s also plenty of posts about the workout you need for the perfect body, or images of super slim and toned figures.
None of this sums up what I feel body image is. None of the definitions tell us that maybe if we realised we were amazing people, that maybe then the way we look at our bodies might change. Nothing suggests that how when we think of our bodies as things that experience and do, rather than as ornaments, we are prouder and more celebratory of them. It all sounds like something as women that we just have to put up with without a say.
Let’s take ownership of this term ‘body image’. Let’s shout ‘OI YOU! Body image! Let’s sort our differences out in a civilised way over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake’. Rather than letting the media and society tell us what body image is and how we should feel, why don’t we tell them what it is. Let’s really understand what body image is so we can learn how to deal with it, embrace it even, and move on so we can live our lives.
Your body is not just your exterior or the shape of your tummy and thighs. Your body is the home of your brain, all those amazing thoughts. It creates those crazy feelings that give us the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s where we produce our wonderful kids, and it carries out the actions that make others smile. It is one of the most complex organisms on this whole entire planet. So body image should not just represent how we look. It should represent all of us: every freckle, every moment of joy, every math sum we do.
Project Body Image will show you what body image really is, what affects it, and help you take control of it.