Today I want to discuss a topic everyone is aware of, but no one wants to discuss. This topic has to deal with the brainwashing done by social media, the fitness industry, and celebrities. Body image issues effects the life of far more individuals than anyone wants to accept. “Oh she keeps saying she isn’t beautiful” or “Yeah he keeps saying he’s not muscular enough”…. whatever the small comments may be, know there’s far more behind the statements than you think. Though media plays a big part, it is not the only culprit for body image issues. Let’s take a deeper look.
The first and foremost culprit is ourselves. I get it. “If you got it, flaunt it”….does no one else harm, right? In theory, just showing your body in public is no harm, but realistically it can be. How so? For those who spent years improving their physique, had surgery, blessed with genetics, or whatever, when you show off your physique in public (whether on social media or in person) you intimidate those who do not have their ideal physique. I’m not saying hide your physique. I am saying in this world it is suggested….even expected that you should show off your physique. Being shirtless is becoming accepted, swimsuits cover less, and shorts aren’t even shorts anymore. Most people who do show their physiques are in great shape, which can intimidate others to either get in shape or hide behind clothes. We’ve influenced body image issues even without the media.
It is no secret that social media is a culprit for body image issues. Why? Because social media only promotes the leanest physiques, most muscular mean, sexiest models, most feminine women, and the highest rating physiques of all time. You know what’s worse? They are promoted like it’s an everyday look. These physiques are shown as attainable ones without drugs, surgery, years of hard work, or editing. This has made an impact and many MANY young boys and girls as they see these physiques and aim to one day be like them. They idolize those physiques and are disgusted with their body until they attain the unattainable (naturally). We do not just show these physiques casually, but many of these “idols”claim they did it without any help (drugs, surgery, sacrifice, etc) while lying and saying “you too can attain this with hard work”. False expectations and disliking one’s own body has risen dramatically over the years.
Whether you see it in public or on social media, there has been a rise in what’s a priority for a “fit” physique. Guys look bigger than they are athletic, and girls have bigger breasts and butts than they are in shape. Through some years in social media, I could tell a big shift from “fit” to sex appeal. Every guy promoted or had the most comments from girls like “can I take him home” was on copious amounts of drugs, and every girl promoted who had the most likes had implants for unrealistically huge breasts and butt. Being unnatural (using drugs not natural to the body or using surgery to attain a look) has corrupted most individuals’ way of thinking. The disappointment from guys who perform a routine and don’t “gain 30 pounds of lean muscle in 4 week” or girls who workout for sometime and don’t “build a bigger booty while losing weight” is too common. Guys get upset and quit training after they follow their idols routine, but don’t get his drastic results. Girls get discouraged when they lose weight from working out and their fat tissue around their breasts reduce, leaving a (by today’s standards) “less feminine look”. It’s quite disgusting how bad social media has corrupted the minds of young individuals.
A less thought of culprit for influencing body image issues is your crush. Yeah, your freakin’ crush is ruining your life! “But my crush is perfect!” Well, most people have a crush on those they know they won’t be with (a challenge is exciting and tempting to most). Because various components in life has brainwashed your crush to think dudes should be big and lean and girls should have big breasts and butt, and nothing else is attractive….well, many of people reading this won’t fit that expectation. It’s just the truth. People on a daily basis get rejected by those they desire because of appearance. It’s not because they are not attractive, but because they are not up to the false expectations given to their crush by the various sources. Of course everyone has their own preferences, but these preferences can be influenced by what they get shown as what a person “should” look like. Not only will some people reject others for not looking like their false expectations, but some people will date someone and try to change them. Bad enough you can’t accept someone, but there are people who will slowly influence their partner (girlfriend or boyfriend) to change into what they desire. It’s fine to have your partner exercise to become healthy and active, but many people influence them to do so to look better. You think you’re doing it secretly, but they know. They just feel bad and feel you would leave them if you they didn’t do what you wanted. Don’t be that a**hole…
A big proponent to competing in sports is peaking correctly. Absolutely no one (besides your Instagram followers) care how you perform or look, besides on competition day. Many athletes will post their best lifts and physiques on social media and the viewers/followers somehow get it into their heads that this is their everyday performance and physique. You can’t blame them though. Majority of individuals outside of any sport lack knowledge of what it takes to be at peak levels for competitions. It’s just being uneducated. Believing that these individuals have their peaked performance and physiques 24/7 will sometimes influence an individual to get discouraged while not at their peak. Let me explain. A novice bikini competitor may see someone’s competition photos and aim to “be her”. It happens all the time. Well, with lack of education that novice may stay in a caloric deficit as long as it takes getting that lean. She will more than likely ruin her hormone levels, lose muscle mass, damage her organs, and fatigue the body a great deal. This novice does not realize the professional competitor she looked up to bulked during her off-season and would cut pretty drastically for her competition (knowing it’s unhealthy, but doing what it takes) and get back into reverse dieting/bulking right after the competition. Another example would be a young boy in athletics looks up to strength competitors. He may look into a professional power lifter and be like “wow I want to get big and strong like him!” Unfortunately his idol only posts his personal records and utilizes the Bulgarian method (work up to a daily 1 repetition maximum based off the day. Usually around 70-105% of your true maximum). That means all he sees is the idol post personal record after personal record. That boy now gets upset with himself, discouraged, and wants to quit working out because he cannot hit personal record every single time like he thought his idol does. People seem to show and promote their best, but maybe we should show that we all are human…
The last reason for the ridiculous standards and body image issues we know today is how advanced our photo editors and photo editing skills have become. There are endless photo editor applications out there with endless amount of filters, lighting, cropping, and ways to morph the photo into something you want. These editing tools have changed the way people represent themselves. It had gotten so out of hand, some people feel their photos aren’t good without filters or some editing done because they fear comparison to other individual’s photos. Heck, even photo sharing applications have their built in editor. Majority of photos you will see have a filter or are edited in some sort of way. Oh, but they are unedited photos if the caption is “#nofilter”…whatever….
Between us judging one another, social media promoting priorities changing, fake naturals discouraging hard workers, ones we like comparing their options to their expectations, displaying yourself while at a peak level only, or everyone using endless amount of photo editors…we have made body image issues and ridiculous standards a living creature that leaves many casualties. WE are the ones to blame, as well as social media. Next time you judge someone….next time you filter your pictures…next time you only post your best and never when you fail…next time you try to change someone…next time you promote only those who are unrealistic….next you lie about how you got to where you are now….YOU…..YOU ARE TO BLAME.
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