By Isobel Ellul
Is there such a thing as the ‘perfect’ body? Are we to believe that the slim, athletic type is the most desirable? The muscular and chiselled physique the most attractive, as favoured by celebrities, the media and social media, which so many young people, and not so young, subscribe to and are influenced by? And have women and men in midlife been visually misrepresented for too long, staid and ‘off the shelf’? Should we be defying the media stereotypes we’re used to seeing? What exactly are we to take by ‘you’re going through a midlife crisis’; is there a prescriptive way of behaving and a style we must adhere to at a certain age?
So what impact does this have on the behaviour of our youngsters when forming intimate relationships and working relationships? What impact does this have on the mental health of the population, the pressure to live up to, aspire to and conform to a ‘desired’ look in order to be more attractive and feel more accepted by others? Can we challenge the primary conditioning of family and friends, from a young age, of how we have to look and act in order to be acceptable in society, or is the secondary socialisation from the media, peers and society generally totally overwhelming and all-consuming as to finally define what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’?
Well Instagram’s Let’s Talk Real (@letstalkrealgib) spoke to body positivity guru Rosalina Oliva (@_justarose_x), who is also a personal coach. Her Instagram blogs are inspiring, empowering and centrally focus on self-love, self-care and how everyone is beautiful, with no defined desired body type. Her main message is that you do not need the approval of others to shower yourself with love, to appreciate all you are and value yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all that defines beauty, desirability, attractiveness, being.
Rosalina herself has been on a journey, like so many of us I guess, a journey of healing from a place of insecurity or abuse, lack of confidence or low self-esteem. This has impacted on body image and body negativity. Rosalina emphasises the need to remind ourselves of who we are and the hard work we put into ourselves every day to love ourselves, understanding and accepting we too are amazing, no matter shape, size, age. Understandably, with age and life experience comes an inner peace, strength and acceptance, with the magical power of not giving a sh*t about what others think. That helps.
IS THERE A STYLE WE MUST ADHERE TO AT A CERTAIN AGE?
And how do we convey that message to our younger generation, to invest in their own self-growth and self-worth, that ‘you are enough’? That the number of likes on your latest sexy social media photo does not define you? That your extra curves, lumps and bumps are part of what make you unique and beautiful? To believe in yourself?
There are many self-help media sites, inspirational, motivational and healing; mindfulness and meditation are vehicles of recovery. Positive self-affirmation mantras, healthy body healthy mind articles and the power of positivity posts encouraged to be the norm; Rosalina’s blogs are full of them. Here’s an excerpt:
“I will not ever again feel the need to mould myself into someone that someone else or society wants me to be. Constantly feeling the need to shape myself into someone who will be accepted, wanted. Always thinking that I have to change or stick to societal norms as not to be judged. I always wanted to fit in. Correction – I always felt I needed to fit in. As if being part of ‘normality’ made me feel less alone. Less different. Until I decided to embrace me, as I am. As I want to be. My body; mine. To love as it is. To take care of as I see fit. To decorate as I want. To show as I please. Mine to decide if to shave, mine to decide if to cover. Mine to decide how to express my style. Unapologetically.”
It’s not vanity, it’s sanity.
UN Women puts it beautifully. Body positivity is:
1) The acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race or appearance.
2) A celebration of who a person is as they are.
3) The rejection of unrealistic beauty standards set by the media, culture and society.
Self-care and self-love is not vanity, it’s sanity. This naturally leads to body positivity.
Follow Rosalina and Let’s Talk Real on Instagram to learn more.
#LetsTalkReal #BodyPositivity #SelfCare #SelfLove #Over50andFabulous #YouAreEnough