In our insta-world, life is a bombardment of messages about looks. Pressures distort our own body image. That's a big risk factor for mental health problems.
So much that as many as 30% of adults are stressed by body image.
That really needs to change. We need to help each other by losing the toxic attitudes. We need to call out unreal images in advertising and on social media.
As the UK’s leading mental health charity says, we need to #bebodykind.
The gym can be a particularly stressful place for those struggling with body image. Here are some ideas for all of us to be happier in our skins.
The gym means sweaty. It means dishevelled. It can mean wobbles and undignified moments. Not everyone is going to turn into a mass of lean muscle. Some of us will just never have thin thighs or a six pack. None of this matters! We exercise to look after ourselves, not to change looks.
Stop and think about what you say about appearance. None of us get to decide our facial features, our build, our skin colour or texture. So why talk about it unless directly asked for an opinion? Compliment people on achievements, personality and actions. That’s a more interesting discussion anyway. Do the same when talking to children – not ‘you look pretty’ but ‘you did well today’.
Any gym worth your custom is genuinely welcoming to everyone. That means a culture of friendliness among staff and users. That means no big posters of idealised (read ‘faked’) bodies. That means the courage to say ‘that’s not right.’ And to ask for things to change.
Let’s make your Hussle happy – for all of us.
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I do get annoyed when the only thing people say to my daughter is 'you look pretty'. That's giving the wrong messages from early on, especially when you hear the same people compliment a boy on being tough or clever. This is not how it will be in my house.
I'm now old enough to be past body image issues - but it isn't easy at all when you are late teens/twenties and bombarded with all these images of perfection. Here's to gyms that really do welcome everyone, whatever their shape.
I didn't attend a gym until my 30s because I was overweight in my 20s and felt intimidated by everyone else's 'perfect' bodies. I wish I hadn't cared and just got on with it. And I am very glad attitudes are changing now and people judge less. Still lots of work to do though.
i completely agree about the no posters of idealised people. This has been a big part of people's mental heath problems/body confidence issues for years and it should stop now.
yes yes yes to what we say and media messages. How often does news coverage of a female death refer only to her as 'beautiful'? Did the poor woman achieve nothing? Let's value each other for more than our looks, cradle to grave.