Self, Health And Wellness

Why We Need To Change The Way We Talk About Body Image, Health & Wellness (Like, Now)

Photo: Hanna Postova on Unsplash
Battling Body Image Issues: Changing the Way We Talk about Health & Wellness

Similar to many American women, I’ve battled with body insecurities my whole life, and it stems from how society talks about health, wellness and beauty. We need to have a conversation about the way we view men and women so our future generations don’t feel the way we did.

Honestly, I can’t even remember when it started. I just know I’d look in the mirror and feel sadness. I felt ashamed when I went from a B cup to a DD seemingly overnight.

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I have dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a thick figure that wasn’t appreciated until now with the exploitation of black women’s bodies. That’s a different story.

Who I am was never celebrated in the media. I can’t think of many Asian role models other than Lucy Liu who really resonated with me. Even she couldn’t show me that I was beautiful.

I wanted so badly to be someone I wasn’t.

I wanted to be beautiful, and the only way I could be beautiful was to "be white". However, back then, I didn’t know what that meant. I obviously couldn’t change my DNA to wake up the next day be a white woman.

In turn, I went through a huge self-hatred phase. In my mind I would never be beautiful. Beautiful women were on the cover of magazines and women who looked like me just weren’t on those covers.

To this day when someone says I look good because I “lost weight” I feel a sense of fulfillment. As though I’m more desirable because I’m a smaller size.

Here’s the issue with someone saying you "look good" after you've lost weight: your weight doesn’t correlate with your beauty.

I am still who I am regardless of my weight. To tell me that I look “better” because I look smaller is a slap to my face. It tells me that I either wasn’t valued or as much due to my size.

Yet, losing weight is the epitome of looking good.

In order to change the narrative of health, wellness and beauty we have to understand that we live in a patriarchal society.

This means much of everything that affects us is because some man is in power.

In multicultural advertising, society makes money from patriarchal values. For example, commercials we are exposed to daily are tailored through the male gaze. The male gaze is the idea that everything we see it’s through that of a man.

There was a commercial where a woman was getting out of a pool and the viewer was slowly gazing at her wet body. I felt uncomfortable, but then I realized my demographic is not what this business aims for. I understand that men are probably the majority of their audience and this business wants to attract the masses.

The woman getting out of the pool was a long legged, woman with a flat stomach — and she was beautiful. The Victoria's Secret models who strut in the annual catwalk are at least 5’9 and also have flat abs. They are also considered beautiful.

Yet, a 2018 study conducted by the International Journal of Fashion Design found that the average American woman size is an 18. This means her waist measures about 38.5 inches. You know what this also means? It means no one you see on the catwalk represents your average American woman.

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Even the people you watch on your television screen probably don’t look the way you do. They can afford a gourmet meal created by a top chef. They have the means to hire a personal trainer to make them ripped like Captain America.

Your everyday 9-5 worker doesn’t have the resources to become the people we value on the big screen.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. Loving your body and the skin you’re in comes from you. Of course weight can correlate to health. If you want to get healthy, run a marathon or even complete a triathlon. That comes with changing the way you eat and incorporating a lot of exercising in your routine.

I’m not judging if you want to exercise to lose weight. I want to emphasize that weight can fluctuate. If you’re so reliant on how others view your body, you’ll always be reaching for something unattainable.

The only person who’s love and approval you need is yourself.

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Isabella Ong is a writer who covers pop culture, astrology, health, wellness and trending topics.