LOVE Island attracted another million viewers from last year’s finale. It broke records on ITV2 – with 3.6million fans in total tuning in but it discouraged positive body image.
Why am I interested? Well frankly I’m not either in the TV series or the viewing figures. Although I admit to feeling saddened by the number of people hooked on yet another vacuous reality TV show.
But I was interested in was the media spotlight on Body Image, which was in response to the series.
News coverage included fierce debates about cosmetic surgery and use of steroids. Kim Kardashian was under fire for her insensitive remarks about anorexia. Huff Post also covered the #strongnotskinny perspective.
If you follow my blogs and social media posts, you’ll know that I’m an ardent campaigner of positive body image.
There are enough pressures in life without adding an unhealthy attitude towards our bodies. I’m an advocate of a healthy mind and body. Yes we do need to work on the obesity crisis. We should exercise and not lead a sedentary lifestyle. We need to eat healthily but at the end of the day we are all different shapes and sizes.
But as a result of so much media attention last week I want to discuss the topics discussed last week, share my views and hopefully get your thoughts too.
77% Of Women Believe Cosmetic Surgery Is Fine
Why do we feel that looking different will make us feel happier?
It’s complex and I’m oversimplifying it here! But it has a hell of a lot to do with seeking others admiration and approval for the way we look.
We see unattainable body shapes and looks in our celebrity-obsessed culture and on social media. Many of us honestly believe the fairy tale that says we’ll live a charmed life too if only I look like that.
One woman interviewed last week, said of one of the Love Island contestants, ‘she’s so gorgeous she can have anything she wants’. Seriously?
This was the same young woman who’d had a boob job after having children in her 20s, because they sagged a bit after breastfeeding. How sad that she can’t change her perspective. That she can’t see what an amazing job her body has done in giving birth and nurturing a new life.
Let me be honest here and say that I did have a consultation about having breast augmentation.
I’m anti cosmetic surgery and procedures apart from reconstructive surgery or helping someone with disfiguring scars. So I was really at odds with my own principles when I booked a consultation to discuss breast augmentation. It was probably the main reason I couldn’t get out of the consultant’s office fast enough when he leered at me!
I had a wake up call as he stared at my breasts. Surgery was not going to make me a happier person. Being accepting of my body was going to have a much greater impact. I needed to have a positive body image.
Up To 1 Million Britons Use Steroids For Image
Despite the well-publicized health risks of steroids, it appears to be a risk worth taking for many.
The most common age group who begin taking steroids are between 20 and 24. But teenagers as young as 13 and men as old as 70 are using steroids to improve their body image.
The health risks are extensive and the long-term effects may ultimately result in death. Risks are of course increased if the source of supply is not reliable. Given that Steroids are a Class C drug it’s not illegal to take them, but it is to supply.
While not physically dependent, users are psychologically hooked on the way the drugs make them look and feel. Coming off steroids can lead to serious complications if not done properly. The body needs to be weaned off the drugs and suddenly discontinuing them can lead to serious health issues.
But again I really worry that the misuse of anabolic steroids is another consequence of the pressures we put on ourselves and others put on us. It’s bad enough when sports people use them to enhance performance. But when they’re used to improve image that’s another symptom of our image-obsessed society. But it’s a society that does not have a positive body image.
An interesting article published in the Huffington Post last month considered the unhealthy heroin chic of the 90s. Katie Bishop asked if Heroin Chic had simply been replaced by an alternative equally unattainable culture of #strongnotskinny.
The blog points out that for most of us, sculpted abs and well-defined butt muscles are not the norm. While mermaid thighs are more realistic than a thigh gap; the #fitspo movement has created another unobtainable body form rather than a positive body image.
I largely agree with Katie Bishop, that positive body image is complex. But for me it’s all about getting our mental and emotional well being right.
That basic education has to start in the home for young children, who need to be given positive role models and attitudes towards food and body image. Fads about food and attitude to body image can and will be picked up by impressionable young minds.
As a Society we need to change our attitudes to many things so that young people have healthier role models to follow. Schools, communities and media all have a part to play.
We’ll never totally eradicate our perception of an idealized body shape. We’ve got some very basic instincts that program us when we’re looking for a mate.
But we can choose to accept a positive body image and be more accepting of our bodies regardless of shape and size. Let’s make this the new ‘style’ for body image and not a fashion. Fashion fades style is eternal – Coco Chanel.
It’s ‘Simple’ Really!
The bottom line is that we need to retrain our thinking and learn a healthier approach to encourage positive body image.
If you’re struggling to love your body, why not download my 3 Awesome Tips to Body Confidence, which will help you have a much more positive approach.