As you walk past the mirror, you do a double-take and pause. Standing and literally staring at yourself, your mind begins to race. Turning your body in different angles, you begin to move backwards and forwards as if one of your body parts is going to miraculously change. Thoughts, visions and critiques about yourself begin to creep through your head. Sucking your stomach in, lifting up your arm, pinching excess fat, standing on your tippy-toes and imagining what you would look like with an added two to three inches. Criticisms are beginning to formulate.
This scene has happened to each woman at least once in their lifetime. Nowadays, and even throughout history, women have always had a constant pressure to have a perfect body type while experiencing difficulty accepting their beautiful unique bodies.
Body image is a term which may refer to a person’s perception of his or her own physical appearance, or the interpretation of the body by the brain. Our body image of our own body is both vital and powerful. The way we view ourselves will ultimately play a part in how we act, and can eventually frame how we allow people to treat us. It is a constant battle to come into a full appreciation of your body, especially with all the pressure in today’s society to be perfect. From the young lady who is on a strict diet trying to shed pounds, to the young girl who sees her petite body type as her worst trait and attempts to gain weight in every way possible—being comfortable in your own skin runs between both ends of the spectrum.
A boatload of emotions erupt as a result of just simply peeking in the mirror and truly just looking at yourself. Some nights you throw on the “get em’ girl” dress with the hot steppers and you would not care if Ms. Berry walked in the place with you side by side, you just know that you will command attention. Other times you are constantly pulling, moaning, and groaning, with nothing but negative remarks spilling out from your lips because you can’t find one good trait about yourself.
The media’s image of Black women is distorted, making it even more complicated to appreciate our body type. It’s no secret that some Black women struggle with weight and staying fit. Often times, the most fit women we see are barely dressed in someone’s video. It is also shocking that Black women’s bodies are not appreciated and ultimately are plagued as being thought of as vulgar even when they’re in tasteful settings. (This, compared to when White women are nude but are ultimately stamped as somewhat “artistic.”) This results in our image or body type as not being honored or appreciated.
Ultimately, it’s a journey to get to the place of where you accept yourself as a whole being. We all frequently struggle with insecurities, doubts and negative thoughts about ourselves. It is not an easy task to completely embrace and love every unique inch of oneself. It is a mental shift that we must train ourselves to make. By saying out loud to yourself what you love about yourself and countering people’s negative comments, as well as practicing positive habits, self-love will begin manifest itself.
– Ellisa Oyewo