Guest post by Suvannah
Learning To Love Your Aging Body
Body positivity or #BOPO is the idea that whatever you look like you have confidence in it. You are happy in your skin. There are new social influencers coming out all the time who don’t fit the usual mold and are trying to be an inspiration to people who are “normal”. But how do you achieve this? And more importantly, how can you maintain it as you get older? It can be easy to love yourself as a 20-year-old with no effects from gravity yet- but how can we deal with our self-image when what we see is changing?
When we’re young we are bombarded with imagery in magazines, pop videos, adverts, etc that all sell us a story of what it looks like to have a great life. The thinking behind advertising is that the product can enhance your life like in the advert. So if you have those new trainers and jeans that fit like that then you’ll look cool and instantly life will be better, and you’ll be happier. This isn’t mutually exclusive to youth- all advertising does it. But the problem with these things being observed when we’re young is that they set the bar for what we find to be acceptable when it comes to self-image.
When we’re teenagers we don’t know who we are yet. We’re testing the waters. So every time we try a new trend we’re not just trying on the clothes, but that persona that comes with them. We’re showing the world who we are. And at that time who you want to be is the same as everyone else. You don’t want to be the one who stands out and gets bullied. So there is peer pressure to conform. These days social influencers and adverts for throwaway fashion brands showing ever more skimpily clad women have been added to the equation too.
These things all factor into our understanding of what it’s acceptable to look like. The problem is that as we get older that image doesn’t change. We all have a mental image set in our minds of what we wanted to look like when we were skinny teenagers, and every time we look in the mirror we compare what we see to that same image. It may be 30 years down the line, but the goal is the same.
A new self-image
What we need to learn to do is to adapt our self-image in line with reality. We need to forget that 9st teenager we used to see. She didn’t have a car yet so of course, she was skinny- she had to walk everywhere. And she could spend hours doing that as she didn’t have to sit behind a desk for most of her days. The image needs to grow with us.
We need to be real with how we feel when looking at social influencers’ images. Are they inspiring you like you keep saying? Or, are they really just making you feel like crap? Cull them. Unfollow them now! And then go and find real people who post without filters, and about how crappy and mundane life is sometimes so you can start resetting the image that you find to be acceptable.
The problem isn’t that you’re not like everyone else. The problem is that everyone else is lying.
You have changed
Your body will change with age because of gravity, because of surgery, because of child-birth, because of mental health, because of medications, and so on. And that’s the point. You don’t look the same as you used to because you aren’t the same person that you used to be. Life has happened to you now. And your life is unique. That’s why you don’t look the same as everyone else on the planet.
Yes, what you see on the outside is a reflection of what’s on the inside or things that have happened to you. And that is not a bad thing. That’s something to be proud of. Whatever you have gone through you made it. You are you.
See yourself how others see you
When other people see you they don’t have the instant comparison you do to this internal image you set yourself 20 years ago. And you need to start seeing yourself as they do. Just what is true today. How many times have you looked back on a photo from years ago thinking “Wow, I looked great then”, and then remembered that at the time you were on a diet as you thought you were fat? Cut out the intervening years and get to that point today.
In 20 years you’d look at yourself today and think you looked great, so think it now as well.
Today start finding people on social media who are actually like you. Follow them. Appreciate them for putting it all out there. And then go and watch Naked Attraction and remind yourself what real people actually look like. Because the truth is, we’re all different. Look at their bodies and re-educate your brain that not everyone looks like a perfume advert.
The most important thing to keep telling yourself is this- you look like you. And you’re awesome.
I am not here to make you more like me. I’m here to try and make you be more like you.
Say goodbye to the days of pretending and let’s get real!
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