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Body Image

How My Support System Has Made Me Confident in My Body Type

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A male with black hair and a beard, wearing a blue Hofstra University sweatshirt sitting by two computers.
Hempstead, NY

In the position that I am in right now, some of the things that we’ve learned to help students with, in regards to mental health, is body image issues. Believe it or not, this is a topic people suffer from. Not just college students, but people of all ages.

I really didn’t face that problem personally until recently, as I was going into a new job where I have to dress professionally all the time.

While I was trying to figure out what my professional style would be, I looked at these models and they looked nothing like me. One of the things I realized is that the models online have a muscular, slim body and that body type does not match my body type.

It hasn’t made me feel super insecure about myself but it kind of made me take a step back. I asked myself, ‘How come there aren’t any models or any pictures of people wearing these kinds of clothes that are my body build?’

It is a struggle trying to figure out what clothes fit my body type and it’s unfair. I have issues with my stomach and waist area.

It’s just frustrating because it makes me feel that I’m inadequate since I don’t have that perfect image. On occasion, I would have low self-esteem. It just makes me feel pressured to go to the gym and makes me starve myself just to lose weight.

Thankfully, I have an amazing support system from my family and friends who reassure me that I’m fine just the way I am.

All the issues I’ve dealt with regarding this issue have always been internal for me.

Social media, like Instagram and Twitter, definitely has a huge role when it comes to this type of issue. Not just for me, but for everyone else around me.

People are always posting pictures online showing their bodies and stuff. I’m all for body positivity, but what they don’t realize is that the more they post pictures of themselves, the more insecure a person gets when looking at these pictures.

My advice is to just learn to be happy with the body you have now. Speak positively, look at yourself in the mirror more often, and just love the skin you’re in.

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Body Image

Body Image – Voices 59

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“You should strive to become a better version of your own self.”
Killingworth, CT
I’m most insecure of my stomach because every time I eat, I feel like it looks a lot bigger. It feels uncomfortable and looks weird to me, compared to the perfect bodies we see through the media, all day every day.

We are conditioned to believe that the standards we see in the media are what we should strive for in real life, no matter how unattainable they really are. This creates expectations that are extremely difficult to meet in people’s perspectives of themselves, but also in how they expect others to be or look like.

Social media makes us constantly compare ourselves to everyone. It makes us feel jealous and inferior to models that have perfectly thin bodies.

It starts to make us even feel worse about ourselves because of the way everyday people try to put out the best image of themselves as possible even if it’s fake like photoshopped or edited with an app.

Constantly seeing perfect people, living perfect lives, that people show off on social media, have an impact in the way people see themselves and others, and ultimately how they live their lives.

When my body is in better shape, I feel much more confident and my self-esteem is higher. But when I’m not in good shape, I feel a lot worse about myself.

When I make an effort to start eating better and working out regularly, I feel better not only physically, but mentally and emotionally in the way I see myself. But during times where I’m not motivated about my health, I’m a lot more self-conscious and down on myself.

I wish I could just be light without having to worry about what I eat. At the end of the day, eating healthy and working out makes me feel better about myself, and it’s how I try to cope with my insecurities when I’m not feeling great about my body.

You should learn to love your body for your own self, and not because society stereotypically says you should.

You should not try to live your life trying to be someone you wish you could be, but rather strive to become a better version of your own self.

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Body Image

Body Image – Voices 58

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“It doesn’t really matter what you look like, but it matters how you feel about yourself.”
Monroe, CT
I think high school was where everyone started having insecurities.

High school is a very interesting place for most people, including myself. I was taller than most of the girls at school so it was already different for me.

Thinking about it now, I always perceived myself as bigger than the other girls when really I wasn’t. I used to have problems with my legs and stomach, and thought I was just on the chubby side.

I just had no idea what my body was doing to me at the time. I’d just tell myself that I would just start being healthy and watch what I eat. I ended up not eating.

That spiraled out of control to the point where I ended up being anorexic. It just got out of control for the most part.

While I was going through that, I still thought I was bigger than other girls. When people talk about body image issues, it is always perceived as being overweight or eating too much.

Anorexia is not being talked about when it comes to these types of issues and I think it should be. Anyways, I did end up going to therapy for about two years and that helped a lot.

My therapist was also a nutritionist, so she showed me what healthy things to eat without starving myself. She showed me I could eat and that I did not have to starve myself.

She also taught me to take better care of myself such as working out and meditating. I needed that more than anything.

Growing up, social media wasn’t as popular as it is now. I would say social media definitely plays a huge role when it comes to body image issues and insecurities in general.

Seeing all these Instagram models showing their perfect bodies really takes a toll on the girl or guy who doesn’t look like them.

We aren’t meant to look alike. It doesn’t really matter what you look like, but it matters how you feel about yourself.

Whether I gain weight or lose weight, it is okay at the end of the day because that’s not what’s important in life. What’s important is how I am to reach happiness in life.

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Body Image

Body Image – Voices 57

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“You have to say, ‘I love my body,’ and remind yourself that.”
NY
I think that body image has affected me emotionally.

As we all know, since the media portrays unrealistic bodies and women edited down until they aren’t really like real people, young girls are affected and compare themselves to everyone. That’s in the back of their minds.

I’ve done it too—looking in the mirror and pinpointing all of the things I hate about myself, but people say, ‘no, it starts with you.’

You have to say, ‘I love my body,’ and remind yourself that. But I think we are taught to nitpick everything about ourselves.

Your friends affect your body confidence as well. I have really great friends that push me up and say I look good, which makes me feel good.

Someone you genuinely care about telling you ‘you look really nice’ helps. Surround yourself with people who push you up.

There are also people surrounded by friends that push them down, and I think that really affects body image because you think if somebody else thinks it, it must be true.

To add on, I did research about this my junior year of high school. I wrote a 12-page paper about the representation of women in the advertising world, so the main thing is how people are photoshopped to look unrealistic. It’s a very important, present issue, and I think a lot needs to change to be where we should be.

Also, obviously, Instagram is a major part of that—posting yourself and a life that isn’t necessarily real, and more of girls comparing themselves to each other. It’s a big issue.

But I also think people don’t realize that companies are going in the right direction and that’s a really great thing. Aerie stopped retouching their ads, though they still choose certain types of girls.

Or even Eileen Fisher—it’s not a popular teenage brand because it’s more expensive, but they focus on these older women who are really living their lives and are smart and powerful; I think that’s really nice.

Teach yourself every day to look in the mirror and say ‘this is what I love about my body’ rather than this is what I don’t like about it.’

My favorite part of my body is my arms, and I’ve always really liked having freckles. I used to have more of them and I actually miss them. My arms also have my freckles, so I think that’s why I like them.

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