The harsh truth of the contemporary world is that we are caught in the endless cycle of self-hate. Instead of goals, we are driven by the feeling of insufficiency. Being a size 10 is not thin enough. Having a wide hip is ugly. Thick arms are ugly. Cellulite is unnatural. Scars should be hidden. Thick legs are ugly. Skinny is ugly. So on and so forth. As a result, we diet and workout so we don’t look like we currently do. We want to look as different as possible from the way we look today.
‘Fitness is a business of selling self-hatred’ is something I had heard someone casually mention. That is just wrong and offensive!
Is that a healthy vantage point though? Is it even fair to hate your own body so much that you essentially ‘punish’ it through hard labour (exercise) and a restrictive diet?
The Increasing Self-Hatred
Hatred for one’s body is the outcome of the mixed messages surrounding us, and these may be voluntarily or involuntarily perpetuated by influencers, both digital and otherwise. Magazines where images are photoshopped to absolute perfection and Instagram and other social media posts flaunting pictures shot in the perfect angles, in the perfect light add to the pre-existent notions of beauty that we all hold. What we have been exposed to since childhood has grown become our reality and hence our goal.
Think about this. Most times you will find that you are yearning to look like someone else. You want to look like Anllela Sagra. Or you want to look like Sergi Constance. Why? Because they are celebrated for their perfectly sculpted bodies. They are the ‘gold standard’ for beautiful bodies. You want to be them because ‘everyone’ agrees that they are what everyone should want to be like. But who decides that?
There is no rule that dictates that you need to look like someone else to be beautiful or perfect. Sure you will have people posting mean things to you about your body, but everyone faces these people.
Social media has made anonymity possible and that empowers people to be harsh. Ignore where you can not change. The easier and doable thing is to equip yourself to be stronger and to empower others than to change minds of every mean, horrible person out there. Besides, every person has a different preference, so for every 5 persons who think you aren’t good enough, there will be at least 10 who think you’re just perfect.
Here’s the truth about social media – it is a celebration of the best things in a person’s life, it is NOT the display of facts. For every perfect picture you see online, there are at least three discarded pictures that weren’t good enough. You just don’t wash your dirty linen in public.
Beauty is Subjective
While I support a healthy lifestyle undertaken for the sole purpose of looking better, I do not condone the accepted notion that suggests that you are ugly right now. Each and every one of us can look better and be fitter, but working on it out of hatred for self is harmful to mental well-being.
Begin with understanding the basic difference in human nature that allows for different perceptions of beauty. On one hand, you will meet people who love Deepika’s fit form, and on the other hand, you will meet people who think she is too lanky. Thousands of people look at Michelle Lewin as their body goal, and there are thousands who think she is too muscular.
The beauty of humanity is the variation of preferences. Whoever you are and however you are, I promise you that at least a few thousand people love you the way you are. Even if you have big thighs. Or even if you are too muscular for a girl. And even if you are too thin for a boy.
I want you to begin your fitness journey with love for who you are today. Along the way, marvel at what your body is capable of doing and what it is capable of being. Aim to be fitter, whatever fitness means to you – faster, stronger, agile, or whatever else it is that you prefer to be. Let your quest be about the journey as much as it is about the destination.
So my answer to the aforementioned questions is that it is not right to hate your body. You might perceive flaws and that is alright. Work towards getting better, but never stop loving yourself. Workout because it makes you strong, helps your body realise its true potential. Have a healthy lifestyle because you respect your body.