Is there an ideal body image? Well I imagine you have an idea of what your ideal body would look like, I know I have an idea of how I would like to improve my body.
The thing is, these building blocks to the ideal body don’t always add up.
‘Oooh I would love a bum like that, oh I wish I had abs like that, oh if only my hair was that thick…..’
The social media and advertising campaigns that fill our every waking minute reinforce the importance of body image. Being beautiful has almost become synonymous with success. Instagram tells us that if we just work hard enough we can have it all, the beautiful body, the young looking skin, the high paid job, the wild social life and of course the unbelievable happiness that comes with having all this.
Well maybe it’s time somebody called bullshit on this?
Realistically the vast majority of people aren’t happy with their body image, and they can’t have it all. The way I see it there are two key factors to this.
Firstly, most people aren’t willing to put the required effort into getting in shape. For the majority of people the simplistic solution of ‘eat less and do more’ is probably correct. If they knuckled down to some serious life style changes, consuming less, training hard, sleeping better and working less, they could achieve some seriously impressive results. I have seen first hand how effective some hard work can be and how good clients can feel with an improved body (even if it is far away form an ‘ideal’). But for a small few eating less and doing more isn’t the answer, it will only lead to a worsening relationship with food and self confidence.
Secondly, this idea of an ideal body image is BULLSHIT. The idea that we can all have the perfect body, a great job, great hair, socialise all the time and look fresh all the time is even more of myth.
All our bodies are different, even if we all got in great shape, there would still be a huge range of variability between body shapes, sizes and fat percentages. Sure there are a few lucky ones out there who naturally have a great bum, great hair and no matter how much they socialise they don’t seem to put weight on. But they are the few, and basing your own expectations around someone you have no genetic or lifestyle similarities with is a dangerous game.
Social media is awful for this, all day we are exposed to adverts, magazines and social media photos, all carefully selected to look great and visually stimulate us. The reality is we don’t know what went in to achieving that image, what that person has done to get there, or even if they themselves are actually as happy as the picture suggests.
You need to understand your body and work to be your best self.
So if you only take away two things from this then let it be these…..
- Use others as motivation, but base your body goals on your own potential.
- Don’t complain about being out of shape if you aren’t working hard to get there.
Written by Finn Stanley
Athletic Development Coach, PES, CES.
Pioneer Performance, Newcastle.