One of my first posts was titled Pygmalion Complex, and I promised within the last few sentences to share my own tips of how I’ve battled with my own body image over the last few years when it’s actually been a big concern for me.
In 2012, I had reached my peak of how heavy I was, and went on a journey to lose it all and regain myself through selective eating, and restrictive practices. Looking back, it possibly wasn’t 100% healthy, the methods I employed, but it got results. I reached my lowest weight in year during 2014, and then it all began to spiral back out of control.
I started creeping back up in weight again, but never reached the peak I had accomplished before. And now, I’m back on that slope downwards again, as in, I am back to losing weight.
So let me just say one thing: my battle of losing weight is in part, about vanity and the body image issues I suffer, but the other part is most definitely my fear for my health if I continue in the family vein.
Now, tip one is this: don’t fool yourself that by gaining the body you want, your body issues will go away. Your issues come from the fact that for a long while, you’ve been uncomfortable in your own skin. It’s sad, but also true. The reason we have these issues is because they’ve developed out of long exposure to pressures and ideals that we’ve never met, and have caused us to judge our own bodies negatively. There could be some CBT treatment you could go for, but what’s the point in doing that when you can do the next tip.
Tip two is far harder, but it’s this: be naked and look at your naked body. A lot of my own issues, and again, this is about personal experience, comes not from seeing my naked body, but how clothes fit my body. I was, what I consider, lucky to be exposed to a nudist environment when I was younger. Nudity and sex were not hush-hush subjects in my house, and this has lead me to have a good understanding of certain areas of life, other’s parents prefer not to discuss. When I start to feel down about my body, I undress.
The best thing about the body, is that we can create and destroy the results we seek. Being naked, allows us to see what exactly is there, and the best route to take to get rid or add something to the fleshy canvas. Look in a mirror, and see the body that others will see if you were stood naked in front of them. And guys, if you look down, don’t worry about what it looks like from up top, again, look in a mirror and feel a rush of relief.
Tip three: don’t have that “after diet wardrobe” stashed away anywhere. Once you feel a change, you’ll be compelled to slip on something from it, just to realise it still doesn’t fit and thus we go back around to the top of the circle. Own clothes that fit you now, and when they get too baggy, then progress to the size down.
And in relation to that, tip four is: know your wardrobe and what suits you. For me, I can carry black, white, grey, red and blue without issue, but if I was to add green in there, it can sometimes draw out my olive skin tones and make me look ill. I know that gold accessories suit me better than silver; boots and high tops look better than shoes and slip ons. It is all about dressing comfortably, fashionably and confidently.
Tip five: stop comparing yourself to someone who is shorter, or taller, and of a different build. I am currently in a relationship with someone who is narrower and shorter than me, and ultimately, you can’t pinch an inch on him. I accept I’ll never be as sleek and slender as he, but I can be a slimmer and more powerful version of me. I know my body through years of working on it. I am tall and broad, and as such, I’ll always be the “huskier” man. This means that I can focus on getting slimmer, but I’ll ultimately need to make up the change in muscle so that my physique doesn’t look so out of place.
And finally, the last of all this, tip six: love yourself. The body image issues you have created don’t come from a place of love for oneself. They come from a place of self-loathing, because we are bombarded with images and ideals that we currently do not fit, and maybe never will. I know that once I’ve lost all my weight again, I won’t be a swimwear model. I know I’ll still feel self conscious about my body should I need to take my top off in a public place, but those times will come and I’ll just have to rip the bandaid off.
If this post really didn’t apply to you, then there’s one thing you must understand: if you see someone like me, and I don’t fit into this ideal perfect world of what a man should look like, or how a body should move, just take a second and think about it. Think, have I put my all into trying to fit an ideal I’ll never match? Have I hated my body, the way that I look, because of the looks I got on the street, in a shop, on the dance floor of a club? Body image issues come from an external place, that the weaker people, the ones with the bodies you despise, then internalise. It shouldn’t be like that. We are all different, and that is something that should be celebrated regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, disability and class.