Over the past few years I’ve worked with a bunch of college and university students – helping them to enhance their body image and improve fitness.
Sadly, i’ve been extremely alarmed at the number of young people (man I sound like an old man!) who are totally obsessed with their image.
Now it wasn’t too long ago (5 years) that I was at university and I can completely relate. I remember spending hundreds of pounds – most of my student loan on clothes, haircuts and gym supplements!
In fact I spent more time at the gym than I did at university! I also preferred to live off Sainsburys Basic Noodles (69p a pack!) if that meant I could buy a designer shirt for a night out!
I know all too well what it feels like to be in this predicament…
Deep Chats & Celebrity Culture…
I’ve had a number of discussions with students who have opened up to me about how much they dislike their appearance and how much it affects them on a day to day basis. When I delve a little deeper and ask them what they expect to look like they come up with…
- white teeth
- big muscles
- lean muscles
- designer clothes
- bigger boobs
When I ask them who they follow on social media, it’s the likes of…
- Kim Kardashian
- David Beckham
- TOWIE Stars
- Made In Chelsea stars
- Cat Walk Models
- Fitness Models
When they scroll through their newsfeed they are inundated with beautiful looking people, all who appear to have the perfect looking face and body, they are also rich, successful and popular…
Is it any wonder why so many youngsters feel so miserable?!?!
They are comparing themselves to the best looking people on the planet.
A large handful of our younger generation believe that if you look good then you will be more popular, happier and more successful. Whilst this could be true, is this obsession to look good leading to further unhappiness?
I think so.
Now i’m all for taking pride in appearance, in fact I think going to the gym and looking after your body is great. I also believe that wearing nice clothes, buying make-up and purchasing grooming products can make you feel better.
The issue is to what extent is your image causing you unhappiness? if you are obsessing over you image and constantly basing your identity on your appearance you will lead a very miserable life.
Here are some tips to help you break the obsession with image…
1) Focus On Other Areas – work on your education, career, personality, mindset, hobbies. There’s much more to life than looks!
2) Be Social Media Savvy – realise that what you see on social media is just a glimpse into somebody’s life. It’s usually the best bits, the airbrushed, filtered photos, etc etc. What you see is a snap shot of how that person wants to be perceived. You need to see social media for what it is or else unfollow all of the people that are causing you emotional disturbance.
3) Focus On Your Strengths – do you have nice eyes? or hair? maybe you are really funny? Focus on what you like about yourself, instead of tuning into what you don’t like. Look at your life and write down a list of things that you are grateful for: family, friends, food, water, a great job, dog, cat, car, whatever!
4) Stop Comparing Yourself To Others – It’s easy to look at somebody and wish you had their body, or house, or hair, or car! When you constantly compare yourself to others you will be disappointed because there is always someone out there who’s: richer, taller, smarter, better looking, funnier, etc etc. Instead of comparing yourself to others focus on becoming the best version of YOU.
5) Focus On What Makes You Happy – Many of us do things to try and impress other people. It’s easy to build a life focussed on improving your image to gain social approval. You see it all the time with men and women…
“if I get bigger muscles i’ll be more attractive to women”
“if I get bigger boobs men will like me more”
The trouble is that when you do this, it’s like living on a rollercoaster ride – there will be plenty of ups and downs! When you try and impress others your happiness is dictated by what other people think. Instead focus on what YOU want and what makes YOU happy. One of my favourite quotes is… “How others see you isn’t important, how you see yourself means everything”
6) Accept The Bad Days – We all get days when we…
- wake up with an unexpected spot on the end of our nose!
- have bags under our eyes
- our clothes look too tight
- we feel self-conscious about our image
- have a bad hair day!
Life is constantly changing around us and not everyday will be perfect. There will be curveballs thrown and things that happen outside of our control. Sometimes we will wake up tired and lack confidence, other days we will wake up fresh, and full of energy. Accept that there will be plenty of days that challenge us, but understand that all of these moments will pass. Stay positive and move on…
Thanks for reading,