I know it’s been a little while since my last post but something has inspired me today and made me want to take a break from the travel post I’m working on. Today I read Jennifer Aniston’s statement in response to the pregnancy rumours and it has brought up an important issue I think we need to keep talking about: the pressures on men and women to look “attractive”. It’s an issue that I think is personal to a lot of us and I’ve tried to be open and honest in this post so please go easy on me.
“For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.”” – Jennifer Aniston
I think young people put enough pressure on themselves without the added pressure from society as well. All you need to do is browse the covers of magazines to see the impossible standards set out for us. Photoshopped images, tabloids that slate celebrities for putting on weight and the next week shame them for being too skinny, buff six-packs from rigorous workouts and ‘love yourself’ articles two pages away from ‘how to lose a stone in a week’. I know this has all been said before but seeing as the message doesn’t seem to be getting through, we need to keep saying it until it does.
Like everyone else, I’m stuck in the same dull cycle of berating myself for not working out more to have that perfect body to then accepting that this is how I am and I like it. One week I’ll tell myself off for not eating healthy all the time and the next I’ll be realising that treating myself sometimes (ok all the time) is completely acceptable. I hate myself for being lazy and unproductive and then I remind myself that I can’t do everything at once. I blame this on the millions of images and expectations that pass in front of me everyday from the media.
“Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance… a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise.” – J.A.
Jennifer Aniston makes a good point about the messages we pass on to young girls but her words apply as much to boys and men too. Young people in general are being bombarded by so many confusing messages and every single one is telling them how they should look but never asking what is great about the way they look now and – god forbid – what they are like as a person. The celebrities I admire – Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves – are all people who have as little to do with the media (in relation to their personal lives) as they can. And, surprise surprise, they are also some of the celebrities most well known for the charity work and good deeds they do.
I should want to workout because its healthy, it makes me feel good and feel energised not to make me look a certain way. I should want to eat healthily because I like the taste not because it’s the latest superfood trend. I should be proud of what I have accomplished and not measure myself against other people. I’m working on this everyday through my Jar of Joy, by Challenging Myself Happy (which I will explain in more detail in a future post) and other techniques but it’s an uphill battle in todays society. According to Young Minds the rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers has risen by 70% in the last 25 years and based on my personal experience with friends, this figure does not surprise me.
My theory is that we are spending too much time looking outwards and not enough time facing the mirror inwards. We need to stop judging ourselves based on other people. Ask yourself how you feel about yourself. If you are not happy with your body because it makes you feel uncomfortable or for health reasons then sure, gain weight, lose weight, tone up, do whatever you need to do to feel good about yourself. If you don’t like your body because it doesn’t match up to those Instagram profiles you follow then you need to stop and reassess.
“Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone.”- J.A.
If we stopped comparing ourselves to others we might have time to actually consider others instead. If we took pride in our achievements rather than constantly feeling inadequate we might take the time to find ways to help others find happiness. Lets stop worrying about what we look like and start thinking about what we want to be like. As Jennifer says, we’ve warped the way in which we calculate a woman’s worth because she’s held up against what she should achieve not what she has achieved. I believe the same applies to men too. I think both sexes are expected to do it all these days, to have the successful career, the children, the non-stop social life, money to jet off to interesting places and to still find the time to go the gym every night.
” In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that “journalists” could dedicate their resources towards.”-J.A.
So lets stop buying the bullshit. Lets ask ourselves how we feel about our lives and what we can do to help ourselves and others feel happier in them. Lets stop letting the media hold up a mirror that only reflects a confused and contradictory message about what we should do, what we should have and what we should look like. Lets instead see a reflection of what we have done, what we will achieve and who we are.