What is “fat”? What is “thin”? According to the Oxford Dictionary, “fat” refers to a person or animal having a large amount of excess flesh, while “thin” refers to having little, or too little, flesh or fat on the body. In society’s eyes, however, it’s not like that. Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought about another person’s body, and how much you would like to have a body like hers? The body image of another “perfect body” is a one that surely flashes in our head every once in awhile, if not every week, or even every day! I’m sure many of us do that, I confess that I’ve thought the same way myself. According to the Oxford Dictionary, body image is the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body. In our current society, we are very obsessed with our own body image, especially for females. The perfect body in most of our eyes is one that is young, thin, toned, tall, long legged… and that needs to change, don’t you think?
According to the 2014 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, it is revealed that only 63% of women aged 18-34 and 57% of women aged 35-49 are satisfied with their appearance. New research coinciding with Body Confidence Week found that almost 10 million women in the UK “feel depressed” because of the way they look and 36% avoid exercise because of insecurity about their looks. Honestly, I feel that that’s way too many people being unhappy and insecure with their own appearance. Did you know that your offhand remarks can be quite influential in the way people think and feel? You could comment that someone was too “fat”, and that person might take that comment so seriously, it might affect her way of thinking about herself for the rest of her life. Social media, too, plays a huge role in people’s mindset and thinking. The advertisements you see on the cover of countless magazines, of muscular men and skinny but curvy women? They all can shape someone’s thinking forever.
With all that is said, you might think these problems may not affect men at all. That is not true. Worries about body image impact on both men and women – the BSA survey found that only three quarters of men are satisfied with their appearance. The remaining one quarter? Not so much. A study of a national sample of adolescent boys, published in the January 2014 issue of JAMA Pediatrics, reveals that nearly 18 percent of boys are highly concerned about their weight and physique. Boys in the study who were extremely concerned about weight were more likely to be depressed, and more likely to engage in high-risk behaviours such as binge drinking and drug use. Of the boys who were highly concerned with their weight, about half were worried only about gaining more muscle, and approximately a third were concerned with both thinness and muscularity simultaneously. Social media and your offhand remarks also affect males, too.
I honestly think that the stereotype of the perfect body in society needs to be changed- and we all need to take action on it. Society guides and possibly rules how some people think. I feel that with the change of society, more people will be more confident about their own bodies. Women and men will stop worrying about their looks when society changes to be a more accepting one which accepts people with different bodies.
Together, let’s work towards being a more kindly and accepting society when it comes to body image, and all else.
Germaine Ong (2 Loyalty)