I admit it: I sometimes read People Magazine. The problem is that a lot of the time, it makes me more angry than anything, especially its focus on peoples’ bodies. The website even has a ‘Bodies’ section, and like a lot of pop culture media outlets, ads, and diet programs, it completely reeks of ‘you’re not good enough’. I’m not sure why I even click on the articles in there (or why I read that crap at all), but hey, I’m human.
Anyhow, People makes noises like it’s all body-positive and stuff, and it does publish some stories of how people overcame fat-shaming and other similar topics; but then, it does a spectacularly shitty about-face with the ‘bikini body’ and ‘What I Eat In A Day’ features. Someone please tell me when we started to care THAT MUCH what other people eat? What is the exact purpose of it, even? It seems grossly intrusive and completely irrelevant to me. Why do I give a crap about the fact that Lori Loughlin eats 1200 calories a day or that Christina El-Moussa ‘eats a clean, organic diet’? Spare me the eye rolls, People.
People Magazine (and really, the world) contains a myriad of infuriating insinuations: Have a baby recently? Why in the world don’t you look like Beyonce, who fit into her pre-baby jeans in two weeks? Wear a bikini lately? Why would you, unless you look like Kendall Jenner? Even though she’s in her 20s, her body seems to be touted as the ‘standard’ of what a ‘great body should be’. Note that the quotes are mine, because I do think this is all BS, by the way.
As I said above, you don’t have to read People (and I recommend that you don’t) to understand what I’m saying; body worship – and body shaming – are everywhere. So why don’t do we tune it out and tune in to our own bodies? Because it’s hard NOT to compare ourselves – body-wise, especially – to everybody else when it’s always in our faces, and the media isn’t helping things.
Why does the People ‘bodies’ section even exist? To uplift us? Or, because they know that readers devour it for the purpose of comparison? And here we come to the point of this post.
Comparing ourselves to others is normal, and it actually benefits us in some ways. For example, if someone is threatening to beat me up, I compare myself to them to see if I need to run or fight (I’d probably run, no matter what). If I’m working away, and I see a competitor doing things that I want to do, the comparison I make between myself and them can push me to work that much harder at my goals. Not such a bad thing, right?
But comparing bodies, although really common, doesn’t really help us at all. Sure, it’s normal to have what you’d call a picture of your ‘ideal body’ in your mind. But constantly holding your image up against other peoples’ – whether they’re celebrities or not – isn’t healthy or smart. It’s draining, crappy, and harmful to your self-confidence and well being. You can argue that it gives you goals, but I’d argue that that is misguided, since you’re a different person – genetically and otherwise – to them, so the comparison is immediately worthless. Yet so many people do this, and then get down on themselves because they can’t seem to measure up, no matter how hard they work.
Stop! Let’s stop this comparing, okay? Here’s some tips on how to do that:
Realize that you’re GOOD ENOUGH AS YOU ARE.
I put this one first because it’s true, and sadly, many people don’t believe it. I see it all the time in my work.
YOU ARE ENOUGH, no matter who in your life has told you you’re not. Losing fifty pounds, or getting hair extensions, or eating Khloe Kardashian’s exact diet is not going to make you a better person. You’ll be the same, with much of the same issues, no matter what you look like. If you don’t love the way you look, make the necessary changes, but do it knowing this. You’re a unique person with unique gifts, so be realistic with your goals, and kind to yourself. If you have trouble believing that you are good enough as a person regardless of how you look, it may be time to speak to a professional about this.
Understand that you have no idea what peoples’ lives are like behind the scenes.
Whether it’s your friends or someone famous, you’ve got zero clues what’s really going into their look and their lives as a whole. The situation that they’re in is not necessarily fun, fulfilling, or happy, even though you think it is.
Know that you’re unique.
Genetically, you’re different from everyone out there (unless you have an identical twin). You can’t change genetics, so we’re all stuck there. Your life is also unique – who else has the exact same body type, and living, work, money, and family situations? Likes and dislikes? Exercise tolerance? You see where I’m going with this. So why are you comparing yourself to anyone else? If anything, compare yourself to…yourself.
Treat others kindly (even if you’re just saying mean things about them in your head).
This might seem like a weird way to stop comparing yourself to others, but stay with me here.
I truly believe that recognizing the good in others instead of criticizing them can reflect back on you, since a lot of times when we’re critical of others – especially of their looks – it’s actually about us, not them. When you’re unsatisfied with your own life, I think it sometimes manifests into criticism of everyone else (along with ourselves). The problem is, that makes you feel icky.
So even if you’re thinking ‘that person has a really ugly scarf on!’ – and we all do think those things sometimes, by the way – and you stop and change that thought to, ‘I love her shoes!’ or, ‘she’s probably a really kind person’, it will probably help defuse negative feelings that you have. It will also help you with picking out good things about yourself, too! Get into the habit…because the next tip is going to relate.
When you flip the negative to positive, it stops that destructive behaviour and feels a lot better, too. If you’re loving on others, it’s easier to love more on yourself. Try it.
Focus on your worth.
We all have worth. No matter what you’ve been told, we are all worthy of happiness, of a good life, and of loving ourselves. Those are just basic rights. We also all have good things about us.
What are the good things about you? Choose something – you’re a good mother or friend; you helped someone today; you love your eyes; you’re a great cook. Write down one good thing about yourself each day. Some days might be tougher than others, but my guess is that you’ll be able to figure something out. Be a role model for others – your kids, your friends, by realizing your strengths, value, WORTH.