By THE BUTTERFLY FOUNDATION
The Body Con is a national competition launched by The Butterfly Foundation focusing on debunking the myths and pressure surrounding body image. Society, brands, products and the media all play a role in the message that our value is tied to how we look. The “perfect” body looks thin, tanned and with makeup just so. But it’s not realistic and it’s not a helpful belief.
It’s easy to disregard negative body image as vanity but it’s not hard to imagine the stress of living with constant disapproval of your own body. “There is a misunderstanding that we must be thin in order to be happy, successful, popular and valuable,” says Kath Courts, from The Body Con.
“So if you don’t look like the poster, then suddenly that means you are not good enough. You begin to move away from things you enjoy because of shame about your body and who you are. It becomes easy to diet or become obsessed with exercise, you think that if you could “fix” your body you could “fix” yourself.”
*Emma has struggled with body image since she can remember. “I look at pictures of myself when I was younger and I see this girl, smiling and laughing. I don’t know what happened to her, but that ease and joy seemed to disappear.
“I remember feeling too big in my school uniform, I used to sit by myself at the back of the playground and read because I didn’t feel like I fit in with everybody else. I felt bigger than the other girls. They’d play kiss-chase and I would sit alone, feeling ashamed and repulsive.
“I have spent a lot of my life feeling awful about how I look. I haven’t dated, or applied for jobs, or gone to parties because I felt that everyone would see me and “know” that I’m unpopular, pathetic and not worth their energy. Feeling dissatisfied with your body is so much more than a shallow concern; it impacted on every area of my life.”