New Year, New Me: A Different Perspective on Body Image

 

A new year is the perfect excuse to work towards being a “better” you, or so we initially believe. The overstated “new year, new me” phrase is a defining statement that implies we will work on our imperfections come the New Year. We constantly tell ourselves that this year is going to be different. This year I’m going to change. Something has to go.

New year, new me.

This phrase often gets put down and criticized by those who believe that every day is a new day and anyone is free to change whatever they don’t like about themselves whenever they want. But that is not always the case; some people need a definite push, an actual countdown, a literal beginning, like the New Year, to motivate themselves to change.

Although there is no doubt that setting goals for ourselves is good, what are we really trying to accomplish? Why are we so compelled to change, and change what exactly? Our habits? Our looks? As soon as the New Year arrives, people are pressured to change in one way or another, and many of these goals revolve around losing weight, particularly among women.

At an early age, women have been conditioned to be self-critical about their bodies, not only to seem “modest,” but additionally because they are given an incredible amount of pressure to look a certain way. And apparently in Western society, a woman’s worth is based on appearance.

Women are fed these quixotic recycled images of a specific body aesthetic, which result in their marginalization. Because of television, image blogs, magazines and advertisements worldwide, women are stressed to look as white, toned, shaved and thin as the women portrayed. Consequently, all women are subject to shaming, body policing, objectifying and discrimination.

These false representations of body image lead us to shame ourselves. We shame our bodies. We shame our tummy pudge, our “jiggle,” our chubby cheeks, our love handles, our stretch marks, our thighs touching, our flabby arms, our flat chests and our big boobs— everything we are self-conscious about. There is always something wrong with our body image. There is always something we feel the need to work on.

What we do not realize is how much our body does for us. Society engulfs us with so many expectations, leaving us to put a lot of hate into our bodies. Our bodies keep us running, breathing, living, yet every day, we face another negative thought that depreciates our image of ourselves. It is what dictates and terrorizes the minds of women from juvenescence.

The obsession with perfecting our bodies can be unhealthy and it can make women resort to risky lengths to achieve smaller waists and glowing, whiter skin. We are so fixated on oppressive body ideals that we let it govern our opinion of ourselves and habitually forget that most women do not look like the picture-perfect model.

This is where we need to examine our reasons for changing. We need to deviate from this unrealistic perception of beauty, end this journey to “perfection” and finally find peace with our bodies.

I’d like to see a new year where we’re not picking at every detail on what we find “wrong” with ourselves.

We should not contribute to a world of unhappy women dissatisfied with their bodies. Instead of focusing on losing weight in attempt to achieve that impractical beauty standard, we should emphasize that there are all types of women, thick and thin, dark-skinned and light-skinned, and everything in between. Let this new year be the year to accept and embrace our bodies, our own natural individuality, and celebrate our differences. Let us use today to flip self-doubt and self-hatred into dedication to loving ourselves in every form and size. Weight does not determine self-worth. This “new year, new me” should remind everyone that enough is enough with criticism because we are certainly enough.

Cheers to 2015 and to the “new me(s)” for self-love.

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