Break the Mold. Turn Up Compassion
One size does not fit all! Nothing in nature grows the same and neither do people. Humans have created ways to genetically modify nature to fit their mold. Some of the produce in stores are genetically modified to attract people to buy it. For example, tomatoes and corn are altered to have longer shelf life and look appealing. In a way, people are also transformed to fit a certain design. Means such as cosmetic surgery and fad diets are just two examples of the ways people try to transform their bodies. But who decides what the size and shape of a human body should look like or is the “best?”. If we look back through history, figures and body types that were “deemed attractive” have constantly shifted. For example, in the Victorian Era full-figured women and larger men were desired. While in the 1990s extremely thin was the standard of beauty. While today, muscular men are the ideal form. These are just a couple of examples of the way men and women's bodies have been shifted and fashioned to a social belief. Furthermore, eating disorders are also unique. Each person's struggle is different, for example, unhealthy views of our body, over exercise, restrictive eating, taboo foods or social food anxiety. Furthermore, the way individuals experience and live with eating disorders are exclusive.
Why do we let an unidentified voice tell us what we should or should not look like? Moreover, why do we listen? I feel it is important we hear our own internal voice. We need to work on quieting the sounds of judgement and turn up the sounds of kindness and understanding. The world is full of standards and expectations which can encourage us to place high expectations on ourselves. These expectations can make us feel a lot of internal pressure and stress. Quickly, our internal self-talk can become critical and negative. For example, “if I were a breast size bigger, I would be more attractive.” These thoughts are not helpful for our self-esteem and our health. How do we give ourselves compassion? We need to work towards changing our own harsh self-talk to one of compassion and love. When we think, “I look terrible today because my face is all puffy.” We can focus on parts of us that we do like or slightly change our language to something more positive. For example, “I may not feel comfortable with my face being puffy but my hair turned out great.” Another way to be compassionate is to ask ourselves, “would I speak to my friends and family the way I speak to myself”? Let us practice speaking to ourselves the same way we would speak to loved ones. Through the act of compassion we take back control of our feelings, behaviors, and bodies.
An unidentified voice is out there constantly telling us how to look and feel. If this voice was silenced, what voice would we have to listen to? So let us break free from standards and strive to love ourselves and the beautiful framework that make us who we are: unique and amazing!
Rebecca Bates is a social worker at the Napanee Community Health Center and provides counselling services to family, couples, and individuals of all ages. Rebecca has practice working with clients and families struggling with mental health and difficult life issues, and regularly facilitates mental health and support groups and presents psychoeducational sessions. Rebecca provides a compassionate and supportive environment to help guide her clients to overcome obstacles and succeed in obtaining goals.