Many of us start the New Year with resolutions, perhaps a good place to start would be learning to accept ourselves. YoungMinds blogger, Bradley Wilson, shares his thoughts on body image and celebrating individuality.
The world has become obsessed with its appearance. Almost every day another study appears to suggest that the youth of today have an awful view of themselves. We've always been conscious of our style or look; it's a way to boost confidence or make a statement, but it seems never before has a generation been so obsessed with their bodies.
Unfortunately the 'perfect' body portrayed to young men is one that encourages them to believe the goal is to become sun-kissed, muscular, tall and with whiter teeth than Simon Cowell. The pressure to achieve the perfect body is across social media, adverts, magazines, and with bullying at an all-time high, most young men are growing up with insecurities and lack body confidence which can lead to depression.
To live through stages of your life feeling worthless is a tragedy. Why can't we be thankful for our bodies? Nothing will change until we see the reality; that people come in all shapes and sizes, different skin tones and that's what makes us unique and individual.
From personal experience, the depression attached to body image is an awful place to be in and sometimes you can go through it without anyone realising. You may not think it's a problem or realise the harm you’re doing to yourself, but if you are obsessing with these thoughts or experiencing depression symptoms it might be time to do something about it.
So what can you do?
The first step is to talk. Getting those feelings and thoughts out is an essential start, it's not an easy step but once you find someone you feel comfortable with and can easily talk to, it makes a world of difference. It could be a doctor, family member or friend. If this isn't an option, there are mental health organizations and charities who will support you through every step of your journey. And remember, it may be a short or long road because everyone goes through these issues differently.
These charities are incredibly easy to contact, often by a simple email. Look online for mental health charities, especially YoungMinds who are doing great work with people all over the UK and starting to conquer the myths and stigma attached to mental health. Their websites often have other people's stories; tips on dealing with issues and many different contact methods, so get researching.
Find something for you
Finding a hobby was a massive help for me, as I found myself worrying much more if I wasn't preoccupied with something. I now love to write, listen to vinyl records and to cook. It's not skydiving or running marathons but it keeps me busy and occupied. And that's the point; it doesn't have to be a big change, just something to kick start yourself into a new way of thinking.
The road to recovery…
Finally, it's important to note that everyone is different. Some of these methods won't work for you, but others will. It's important to keep positive and remain confident that you'll find the right help.
Whatever size you are or however you look, you are you. It's what you have been given and the body you've got right now, so embrace it.
I think it's crucially important to try and get rid of this view that we must all look the same and behave the same; we must celebrate individuality.
Show the world you love yourself and that they can do the same.