In my latest quest to get in shape, I’ve thought a lot about body image. I think there’s a common misconception out there that black women don’t have as many body image issues as women from other cultures. I just wanted to tell you guys my story as a black woman struggling with body image issues in today’s society.
As I complain about my lower belly pooch and my untoned arms, I wonder why I even subject myself to such self-inflicted criticism. I read somewhere that 97% of women are cruel to their bodies and I’m one of them.
Usually, people blame the media, models and Hollywood for portraying an unrealistic body image and making us feel inferior. Yes, that’s true but the other sad truth is that we judge each other harshly everyday (especially black women). We’re quick to point out if a girl’s arms are ‘too flabby’ for that sleeveless dress or her hair is a mess, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating being unhealthy and unkempt, but fitness and beauty come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to have a six pack to be considered fit nor do you need perfectly kept curls to be beautiful. I’ve gone back and forth about restricting my already healthy vegetarian diet and changing my look in order to reach the fitness and beauty goals that I’ve set for myself. I debate whether it’s even worth it. I’ll starve (not literally, but you guys know what I mean), struggle, workout and completely change my look just to reach my goal, and then what? Keep restricting and changing myself to stay there?
Obviously, the logical answer would be to just keep doing what I’m doing – eating healthy and working out moderately. I don’t need to achieve a ‘certain look’. I’ve told myself this over and over and over again, but something happens when I get in front of a mirror. I start mentally attacking myself. No one has told me I’m out of shape, I could look better or whatever. It all comes from within. A lot of y’all know exactly what I’m talking about because you’ve struggled with body image issues too. I hate to talk about a problem without a solution ( a real one) but I don’t have the entire answer yet. I haven’t reached that place where I’m 100% ok with what I see in the mirror.
I decided to share my body image struggle because that I want others to know that they are not alone. Even though Alex and I run a health and fitness blog, we have the same issues as everyone else. We need to talk to each other and come up with a solution.
I think part of the solution is realizing that celebrities on TV and in magazines aren’t ‘perfect’ in real life. Yes, some of them are naturally gorgeous, but if you put them in an outfit from H&M without HD makeup, contouring, lightning and weave, they would look like a “normal person”. Case and point:
The next step is to stop being so critical of each other. Seriously, we all need to just stop. Myself included. Whenever I feel like criticizing someone else or myself, I try to take a deep breath and say something nice or say nothing at all. It doesn’t happen every time but by being consciously of it, I’m hoping to change my mindset.
Do you struggle with body image? How do you deal with it? Comment below or on social media.