Unfortunately for most in present day it is very hard to maintain a positive self image in a cultural climate that promotes a generalized image of perfection (as the one you see above).
Not to mention a great deal of organizations utilize marketing strategies that rely on consumer insecurities to promote their products and increase revenue. Products and trends like (but not limited to) cosmetic surgery, hair care, fashion and (awfully shocking) fitness.
Each of these use strategically subtle body shaming (or the PC term image shaming), bullying or negative self image portrayal to entice consumers to be more like the ad and change themselves!
I recognize that the trend I will get the most resistance for mentioning is fitness. But I get it because fitness is suppose to be a health initiative, a motivational effort to encourage healthier lifestyles. And in many instances it is, but unfortunately the reality is that the messages are not always body/image positive.
IMAGE SHAMING AS A MARKETING TOOL
Culturally (however) since we have enough people to buy into the generalized idea of perfection, what is often not considered is the number of individuals who allow themselves to get further from the concept of self-acceptance.
Instead, we find that we unconsciously become those who shame others and make them feel less than for not seeking the same image of generalized perfection.
And unbeknownst, the probability that we'd essentially become those toxic people who use our positive self image to encourage others to be more like us is highly likely.
BODY SHAMING CYCLE
We'll essentially become walking talking billboards for the brands that thrive off insecurities and negative self image. Unfortunately however they are also our friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The people we interact with on a daily basis become so engulfed in achieving the generalized idea of perfection that they constantly compare themselves to what is deemed "perfect" or "ideal". Subsequently, we'll be judged and/or encouraged to take on the same ideals.
In turn, those without positive self images unconsciously take on these views. They often embody the comparisons and look in the mirror and make them a reality.
And that's essentially how others impact our individual self image!
Although not all negative image portrayals contribute to the development of the insecurity, they can very well contribute to the magnification of it.
And I gather that some of you reading this post may assume one or both of these roles at any period of your life, however it is your responsibility to be accountable for the intention behind your interaction with others.
I am in no way saying you can't positively encourage someone to become a better version of his/herself, but you certainly can do that without making the other person feel bad for being the person they are.
And for many, the person they are fighting very hard to accept.
OUR OBLIGATION TO ONE ANOTHER
It's our duty to acknowledge the differences in others and understand that culturally some aspects of our physical being are genetic and irreversible. Similarly, there are others that require extreme measures for change (surgery). But I'll stop there because I wish to refrain at this time from sharing my thoughts on the use of elective surgery to build or re-establish self confidence...
So instead I will remind you that at some point one or more of you reading this post will assume one or both of these roles in life.
And I've learned (noted) that we usually assume the more toxic role when we are in the prime of our lives, looking good, feeling great, getting countless compliments, etc. (Walking, talking billboard remember?) It's at that point where it's easiest to get absorbed in the idea that we are happy because we look good, and we are better because we feel good, even when we know that is not always true.
We have a responsibility to be accountable for our words and how our opinions are shared with others.
We have a responsibility to try and understand that you can't positively encourage someone to be better version of his/herself, without an ability to recognize someone's struggles. We have an obligation not to assume we know someone can do something or be something (change) as easily as we may.
One of the hardest (and greatest) lessons I've learned to practice, is the ability to think before I speak. Being thoughtful, essentially.
While it seems so easy in practice it can be most difficult because we must gain full control over ourselves in order to do it properly.
I encourage you all to take back control of your self image.
Be the person that you know you wish someone would be to you. Be conscious of your perceptions and ideals that dictate an ideal body type to you. Because an unfortunate reality is that some people are killing themselves to be perfect and it could be easily motivated (encouraged) by you, if you aren't careful.
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