Body Image & Mental Health in Kenya

Our body image does affect our mental health today more than ever! Our conversations in front of the mirror and things we see through society’s eye affect our emotional, psychological, mental and ultimately physical health. I have struggled with body image issues and I am sure that a lot of you reading this have too.I have been the thick one in my group of friends! I once had a guy tell me that I’d be perfect once I lost my belly fat and, I believed him! That’s the sad part. I have walked with my “skinnier” friends and felt like shit! I have been around people who have felt themselves “better” because of their smaller waists and thinner thighs! When you’re a “big girl”, even eating a regular meal can elicit judgement from a stranger who thinks you should spend the rest of your life at a gym until you get your life together.

Body image issues cut across the board because I have also been “skinny” and I did not appreciate and see good things about my body. Being “skinnier” did not give me love and appreciation for my body. Basically, everyone under the lens of society with its absurd beauty standards is affected. We all know what society defines as beautiful and they deliberately put it on an unreachable untouchable pedestal. The beauty industry promises reach through product sales, therefore the more you stretch to reach, the more money they make and all you end up with is the illusion that beauty does not exist within you unless you look like what they are selling.

 

Activity: Close your eyes after reading this and picture yourself as a child looking in front of your home mirror. How did it feel? Feel that emotion again as you see that little beautiful girl.

 

I felt a perfect little girl who just loved the idea of being! I felt the freedom to love every bit of me! I wasn’t skinny! I wasn't fat! I was just me and so loved! I laughed my loudest laughs and never was my body and its size a… Click To Tweet

Our mental health is highly influenced by conversations in our minds and the things that we are saying to ourselves. A lot of it influenced by society’s standards and our cognition of past experiences.

 

Here are a few tips to help us develop a healthy body image and in turn help us improve our mental health.

 

a) Presence

I never used to look at myself in the mirror as often as I do now. This is now part of my daily practice of being present. Being present to who I am. My body!  Honoured to carry me through this life. As we see ourselves through the mirror, we hear a lot of society’s heckling and body shaming us. We glance away and avoid the person in front of us. Standing there and feeling that discomfort lies an opportunity to challenge society’s beliefs and affirm the truth that is right within yourself. Listen, we cannot let these voices win! Yes, I know, it is hard but that person in the mirror was not created to conform to this crazy ass society and it’s standard that teaches us to shrink ourselves to fit it!

 

 

b) Call them out!

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“In all honesty, I now see that I should have called him out on his insensitive, body shaming and demeaning comments!’’ We have been around people that shame others because of their weight and truthfully we have also been those people. Toxic people exist around us and as much as we can do our very best to avoid them, calling them out on the insensitive body shaming comments is a better chance at stopping them from making the next guy/girl feel uncomfortable about their bodies. If they keep up with it, then you are free to keep it moving and avoid the negative energy! Go where you are celebrated, accepted and loved. Do not stay in a negative space!

 

c) Food as Fuel.

Body image struggles cannot be separated from our relationship with food. From emotional eating to the obsession with counting calories. All this motivated by either the fear of losing too much weight or gaining too much of it. But what if we looked at food and honoured it as fuel for our best lives on this earth. Click To Tweet When we look at food for what it really is, we see all the beautiful things good food does for our bodies. I try my best nowadays to appreciate all the nutrients and healing properties I am nourishing my body with through the food I consume. Food contributes to how we feel and in turn affecting our mental health. Allow food to fuel your life!

 

d) Exercise as self-care.

Working out should not feel like a punishment for being a “bad, fat and ugly” person. I apologize because sometimes we as part of society make people feel that way. I know working out is hard! It doesn’t feel great especially when starting out but there is a need to trust the process. Apart from weight loss, building muscle and bulking -whatever your goal is- it is a great way to reduce stress and creating self-awareness. You discover the strength within your physical body that convinces you of the strength that lies within your inner person. Exercise is self-care, remember to have fun with it and do a little dance routine! Don’t punish yourself.

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e) The Power of NOW.

Perfection is not in the future when you get to live up to society’s standards of your perfect body. But look at us, we put aside clothes we love, dreams, love, relationships and opportunities until we reach this elusive goal. We never smile at a guy we like because in our heads we believe he would like us better 10kilos lighter. We don’t apply for jobs or allow ourselves to be seen and shine because we believe that people will see through our  insecurities

The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value and possibility.-Geneen Roth. Click To Tweet

We do not need to attain society’s ideas of perfection to validate our worth and abilities. Our body image struggles begin with what we believe about ourselves.

 

 

Stay Relatable queens!!!!
Your coach,
Dorsila.

 

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