Lockdown has been stressful for us all for many reasons, most of which I do not need to explain. Being stuck at home meant that our exercise was limited and we had very little to do. Now, if any of you are anything like me, you eat when you’re bored. I have a very bad habit of doing it but I think it’s quite common. If you’re busy then your mind is distracted, the feeling of hunger will not be as strong. But, if you’re bored with every little else to think about then your mind will instinctively make hunger more prominent.
One of the biggest concerns amongst most people in today’s society is body image. We have become obsessed with our aesthetic and our overall desirability; lockdown has not made this struggle any easier. Social media became flooded with everyones “lockdown workouts”, urging people to remain productive even when the morale of the masses was at its lowest. People were sharing their achievements and projects throughout lockdown making us feel inferior when we’d spent yet another day in bed (trust me, I spent several days in bed).
One of the hardest parts was actually seeing our own bodies change over this period through lack of activity. Some of us found ourselves disheartened by weight gain, others of us through loss of muscle. Either way, when your body is changing and your mind is not allowing you the motivation to counteract it, it can become very deflating. Even if you do have the will to remain active, those of us that were lifting heavier at the gym found it much harder as our home resources have been very limited.
Speaking from experience, I have seen drastic changes in my body. I was finally at a place of being satisfied with my appearance, and my days of being self-conscious were few and far between; lockdown has all but eliminated this. At first, I felt defeated, and here’s some of the classic things we tend to say to ourselves:
“ugh, life is unfair”
“just when things were going well, Corona has to happen”
“how is everyone else being so productive?”
“So much for a summer bod”
Ok, the last one vexes me so much. This epitomises the idea that our body image is purely to impress other people. The idea that we can’t enjoy life, enjoy the beach or enjoy our holiday without seeming somewhat desirable to people we do not know (even if we are in a relationship) is probably one of the most toxic parts of modern society. Being queer myself, I have experienced the pressures from my community, the body shaming is awful. Unless you are built like a brick shithouse with a physique resembling a greek god, you’re not worthy; a concept that really needs to be eradicated.
There are people in my life who’s self-esteem is so highly attached to their body image. Seeing them put themselves down by implying that their worthiness as a person is in someway lessened by their body changing is heartbreaking, and is not at all limited to queer folks.
Now, real talk, (and being honest I dunno if this is internal happiness or my new anxiety meds talking but roll with it) I am happy. I am genuinely the happiest I have ever been. Sure I still have down days but internally I am fully at peace with my life. My body is not what it used to be, but being the level of happy I am now has shown me that I do not need to perfect body to be happy. Sure I can buy nice things, but the objects are empty and adds no value to my life, showing that I do not need nice things to be happy. Body image is something that so many of us attach to our happiness and we all tell ourselves the same lie - “it’s for me”. We all want to look confident and look nice, but deep down we want to be accepted, we want to conform, we want to be desired.
So, what’s the purpose of this article? I’ll admit sometimes I get a bit lost in what I’m writing and try to out the world to rights in 800 words lol. But, the purpose of this article is that there is NO SUCH THING as the perfect body. It’s a construct. The perfect “beach bod” is a construct, it doesn’t exist. The perfect “male body” that queer people feel the need to adhere to is a construct, it doesn’t exist. It’s taken a long time, but here’s some tips on how I’ve learned to deal with it:
Unfollow people that make you inferior - Many of the people that we follow online can make us feel inferior due to their ‘insta-perfect’ bodies. If there is anyone on your feed that does this to you, remove them from the equation.
Get off of the scales! - A very archaic measurement of body image is our weight “+ weight = bad, - weight = good”, a system that is very outdated. So, avoid using the scales as a measurement of your progress, if exercise makes you feel good, THAT should be the focus.
Avoid shaming yourself for cheat days - There is nothing wrong with enjoying food, everything is about moderation. I went through a phase of thinking that whenever i had something bad (which was quite rare) that I’d have to go for an extra run, or do an extra 30 minutes at the gym almost as punishment; this is not healthy. There is nothing wrong with a cheat day, now I’m having more and more “cheat days”, and I’m happy.
So, the next time you put your body down, or feel deflated after a workout, or deflated for not working out etc, ask yourself something. Is it you that wants to achieve this for you and you alone? Or are you trying to appease the same societal standards that we’ve had drilled into us for years? Just something to think about.
love ya! xoxo