The Mental Health Foundation (MHF)
released a report
talking about body image with some recommendations of what we can do. Some apply to big companies and groups. But there’s some that we can do too.
Let’s get into it.
Talk to someone
A mental health post wouldn’t be complete without a message to go and talk to someone. We may pass it off as one of those “default” things that everyone says – but talking can often be the first step on a journey of recovery.
With body image – the MHF say to talk to people if you feel you’re being pressured into a decision such as extreme dieting or taking supplements. Always talk to someone before making major decisions.
Spring Clean Your Apps
This is about limiting what you see. If you’ve got a lot of social media apps or magazine readers who are showing an ‘aspirational’ image of models and that’s affecting you then consider if you want to surround yourself with that.
Looking at the accounts you follow and see if they impact your body image
This is something we have a little control over.
If you’re following lots of celebrities, big brands, or other accounts which are presenting unhealthy bodies then you can unfollow or blog those accounts. Most social media platforms should allow you to do this.
I know blocking people can feel extreme I certainly always feel a bit awkward when I block people. But it’s important if certain accounts are affecting our mental health that we do something about it.
Also, the MHF mentions blocking or muting certain hashtags. I’m not sure how many platforms currently allow this to happen at the moment, it’s something I’ll investigate more.
You can report adverts to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) if you feel like they present an unhealthy body image as aspirational.
This would only work if a lot of people reported adverts which would force companies to present body image more healthily. But I have doubts about how effective this will be.
Parents who model positive behaviour around body image, healthy eating and active behaviours are all ways that children can have better body image.
Now everyone parents in their own way and there is no call for change here. I would rephrase this to be mindful of the language and behaviours we do because as we know, children love to copy everything.
Be mindful of language
In the long run, our language can have negative impacts on our bodies. When we say things like “you look great, did you lose weight” or “I feel fat today” they may sound harmless? But what these do over time is continue to reinforce the negative stereotypes that being thin is the ‘ideal’.
Enjoy being active
This is a nice one to end with. The report says that a “healthy amount of exercise” is good. I would say this is the amount you enjoy. It’s doing whatever you feel comfortable with. As long as you enjoy it, you’re happy that’s okay.
These are my thoughts on the MHF’s tips for improving our body satisfaction.
But I would also say this
Everyone’s body is unique and different. We’re always going to find something wrong with ourselves. We’re always going to notice our imperfections.
And that’s okay.
We’re not talking about waking up and looking in the mirror and thinking you look awful once on a bad morning.
We’re talking about a sustained level of body dissatisfaction that can cause real issues in our lives. These are real problems that we need to work out.
So let’s talk about them.