CONTENT WARNING: Mentions of bullying and reference to eating disorders.
My perception of my own body has been gravely impacted by how my friends and family saw me when I was younger.
My name is Simran, I’m a final year Psychology undergraduate student at Bangor University. I’m interested in the field of Clinical and Health psychology, while I also enjoy dancing in my free time.
One of the main reasons that I joined the Mind Over Body project was my firm belief that the way our bodies are perceived by other people can have a deep impact on the individuals that we become. According to me, having a positive body image is when you appreciate your body in its entirety, in the way that it looks and functions, while also respecting the fact that it’s much more than the way it affects your appearance.
Phrases like “love yourself”, “practice self-care” and “feel beautiful in your own skin” were easy for me to believe and implement when I was either having a good day or when someone or something made me feel beautiful. In different circumstances, feelings of self-doubt, fear of being judged and feeling conscious in my body came far more naturally to me.
When I trace back to the first time I strongly felt this way, the pressure to maintain and acquire a body that was accepted by the people surrounding me came upon me when I was only 14 years old. It was back when I was in year 9, I was sitting across a table with my friends waiting for the teacher to enter to teach the class. A boy I liked at the time walked over to my table to ask me whether I wanted to sit with him in Art class, which I happily agreed on. During recess we were eating lunch together with his friends, and it was then that I overheard his friend talk to him about a different girl complimenting her looks, before bringing the focus towards me; complimenting me on the fact that I have ‘a good personality’ and how that ‘made up for’ the body that I apparently lacked. They specifically spoke about my legs and how they weren’t very ‘skinny’. Several incidents like this with my friends and my family reinforced the belief that I had to maintain and acquire a certain body in order to be completely accepted and loved. I found myself attributing my body as a cause every time I wasn’t picked in a sports team, or was rejected by a boy.
Contrary to this incident, when I was in high school I had suddenly lost weight, and my family were worried that I was stressed or that I wasn’t eating enough. They even went as far as calling me an anorexic, a skeleton or a matchstick, but in school no one really cared about it. At one point someone even came up to me to tell me how they were envious of the so suddenly ‘skinny’ body.
There wasn’t a moment of enlightenment that made me realise this; it was my desire to change the way I was feeling that became stronger by the day. I consciously made the decision to change my friend circle and I decided to speak to my mother about my family’s comments getting to me. It was then when I finally came to terms with the fact that I can’t please everyone. On social media the standard of beauty was a curvy woman, while in my family the standard was being “fuller”.
Being able to share my story on a platform like this gives me the opportunity to strengthen what mind over body truly stands for, that the mind can heal negative perceptions of our bodies. You can confidently do everything that you put your mind to, including learning how to appreciate your own looks, setting your own standards for your own beauty and becoming confident in who you are.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, please see our resources page for support.