Self image and shame 

Avatar of Annabelle Armstrong-Temple
Entertainment Column

Probably everyone you know, including yourself, has an idea about what their body should look like.  Likely, your perception of how things should be doesn’t always match up with what you see in the mirror. You might even feel ashamed and try to compensate. I’ve been there, to the point of checking my appearance every two minutes to try to achieve a “better me”.

Our minds tend to pit us against the world – they analyze how we talk, speak, and think, then compare it to how we perceive other people doing the same. Many of us have social media, and it’s inherently a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a great place for expression and even learning about yourself and the world. On the other hand, the full truth isn’t necessarily a given, and it can cause a lot of comparison and self shaming. Life isn’t just what is shown on Instagram. There’s no way to tell what someone truly thinks about or looks like all the time by just looking online.

We also get a lot of ideas about our bodies from our families. For some, that could be constant comments about weight, directed at themselves or you. Other times, it’s a little more subtle, comments on food choices or generally eating healthier. All of these things have a big impact on how we feel about our own bodies. Even if no one ever comments on your body or food choices, you might still end up comparing yourself to a certain standard because you’re used to your family doing that to themselves. Whether it’s constant comments about weight or food choices, how our family thinks about “healthy” bodies influences how we think about ourselves. 

There is an influx, especially online, of what is called “body positivity”. This is the idea that no matter what your body looks like, it’s a good one, and you deserve to feel comfortable in it. There’s also “body neutrality”, which is appreciating what your body does for you while taking the focus off of appearance. These ideas can be hard to internalize, though, as it requires a change in mindset and a certain intentional ignorance of the state of social standards. 

It’s okay if you don’t know how to be completely okay with your body, and it’s okay to want change. But be mindful of just how easy it is to fall into an unhealthy mindset about bodies, eating, or presentation. If you need help with body image, reaching out to a counselor or even finding posts online about body positivity, body neutrality, or body acceptance can make it easier to stop comparisons. 

The next time you notice that you’re comparing your body to someone else’s, whether it’s online or in person, remember that your body, no matter how it changes, isn’t going anywhere. Trying out a new expression or wanting to post your confidence isn’t a bad thing. Don’t feel ashamed for being yourself. Have fun and be safe.