- Mental Health
Do You Compare Your Body To Others?
We're all beautiful
We live in a society where we are bombarded with images of what's beautiful and what isn't. Everywhere we turn, there are magazines, billboards and advertisements all creating an illusion of how we "should" look. It's an advertising company's job to create visuals that are appealing enough to grab attention and earn sales. Businesses, whether big or small use these images all the time to earn their incomes. Hair, skin, nails, clothing and body types are all regularly used to sell a product and sometimes those products have nothing to do with the images themselves. How does this relate to you? Let me explain.
After having lived in South Beach Florida for several years, I can attest to being surrounded by "perfect" looking people. Many of these people were models, others were just beautiful. I was quite overweight at the time and couldn't feel more out of place if I had been a slab of beef in a vegetable garden. It was tough not to compare myself to the gorgeous specimens of human beings I was around. There were women with perfect legs, men with chiseled everything and everyone had a glowing tan. I was pale and chubby. Feeling as though I had nothing else to offer in terms of beauty, I played up on my sense of humor and developed a "good personality". As painful as it was at times to feel so imperfect, it taught me a few things about body comparison.
There is a positive aspect to comparison.
Looking at someone else's seemingly perfect body isn't always a bad thing as long as it's used as a motivational tool only. When we aren't talking care of ourselves because we're busy taking care of everyday responsibilities we often don't pay much attention to our bodies. Weight creeps up, muscles atrophy and before we know it, we aren't presenting our best. Sometimes a little healthy competition can remind us that we don't look or feel the way we want to in comparison with other people who do make health and fitness a priority. If this can be used as a tool to enable us to look within and be honest with ourselves about where we are vs. where we'd like to be, then comparing our bodies to others can be a positive thing. When I used the comparison tool a while ago, it simply reminded me that I wasn't at my best and it was time to change that.
There is also a negative and dangerous aspect to body comparison.
While it's not a bad thing to use comparisons as a motivational tool, most people take it too far. This type of negativity can lead to eating disorders, unsafe exercise and weight loss practices and self-loathing. When it comes to the models mentioned earlier in this hub, it needs to be pointed out that some people are just genetically gifted and no matter what we do, we'll never look like them. The important thing to remember is not to try to look like them. We can't look like anybody else because we all come in different shapes and sizes. Everyone's body type is unique and awesome all in it's own way and there is simply no point in trying to be something we aren't. If more people really understood this I honestly believe we would all be much more secure within ourselves.
You cannot alter your body to be anything other than what it was designed to be.
A person's shape is determined by their bone and musculature structure. When we look at people and compare, it's important to understand that their bodies are playing by an entirely different set of rules from our own. Muscles come in different fibers and some of us have more of one type where other people will have an abundance of a different type. This means that even if we spend every waking hour in the gym we still won't look exactly like someone else. I'll get more in depth about the different muscle fibers another time (it gets a little more complicated). For now, I just want to get the point across that while there is a healthy aspect of comparison to other body types, there is an art to keeping it real. Some people are tall, some are petite some are stout and some are lean. There are benefits and disadvantages to every body type and our best bet is to take care of the type we have since it's the only one we're responsible for anyway. If we pay attention to celebrities we'll be reminded that some have long limbs, some have voluptuous bottoms, some are tan and some look like porcelin dolls. They all look the way they should, they all have their own types of beauty and they're all accepted in society.
A fit and healthy lifestyle everyday will help eliminate body issues in general.
When we eat the right foods and exercise we are enabling our bodies to shape into the best version they can be. We feel fit and energetic. Our clothes look good, our skin has muscles underneath to give us a nice shape and we know in our hearts that we're doing what we need to do to look and feel our best. If we're happy enough with our own efforts and progress there won't be the need to feel bad about what we don't have in comparison to someone else.
Since those South Beach days, I have lost over 70 pounds and gotten down to about 16% body fat. I don't have long, skinny legs and I don't see myself on the runway. I also still don't have a tan (I'm not designed to be tan) but I do have a good feeling about my body. It will be a a work in progress until the day I'm gone, but because I've done what I needed to do and got fit and healthy, I no longer feel the need to want what I don't have. What I DO have is something else. It's called pride. Pride in the fact that I climbed a weight loss mountain one step at a time and I look good. I look like me. I look like the best me I can and I'll take that over trying to be someone else anyday. Besides, anything else usually looks fake anyway.
Be Your Best Self
7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
Walk Away Your Waistline! With 1, 2 and 3 Mile Markers (Walk Belt Included Inside!) (2007)