Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
This years focus for metal health awareness week is body positivity. This is such an important topic and one which is effecting more and more of us each year.
I wanted to share a personal experience of mine around body positivity.
A few years back I noticed that the accounts I was following on Instagram were not having a positive impact on the way I thought about myself or others. The accounts themselves were promoting good things - healthy eating, fitness and an outdoorsy lifestyle. Even so, I realised that it was creating a very clear idea in my head of 'good' and 'bad' based on visuals, which is not ideal.
My life (or body) did not look like these visuals and so a feeling of 'not good enough' started to creep in. Instead of feeling inspired I began to feel pressured.
A big change for me came when I started following Megan @BodyPosiPanda
her account celebrates the worth of all bodies, her message clearly states 'you can love yourself no matter what body you come in'. She fights back against the message that thinner = healthier and even the message that health is a pre-requisite for celebrating your body.
I'm slightly embarrased to admit that I had so much to unlearn in this area. Facts about what a healthy person can look like helped me a lot at first. For example did you know that inactivity is more damaging to your longterm health than being overweight? Learning more about the myths I'd come to believe forced me to let go of the idea that my judgement came from a place of caring and face the fact that I was carrying a deep bias that'd been building up since my childhood.
If you're thinking 'she's promoting obesity' please don't misunderstand the whole purpose of the body positivity movement. Everybody can love and appreciate their body. No matter what. Self love should not be dependant on health or weight. That is the message.
Instagram contains endless accounts celebrating slim and fit bodies (which is fine if following them makes you feel good). What I've found is very beneficial for my mental health is to follow some accounts that celebrate marginalised groups too especially body positive, ethnically diverse, differently abled and LGBTQ.
Body positivity is a very complex issue, one that I am still constantly challenged by. We don't presume to have answers but we do know that the more honest conversations we are having, the less alone we'll feel in the struggle, which is important.
So please come and join in the chat (Instagram/Facebook and Twitter) if you have experiences, thoughts or ideas around this topic.
Let's encourage eachother more! Let's remind eachother how important self kindness is!