Sunday, 12 July 2015

Body Image

(Somfest .London. England. 2015)
Looking your best and feeling your best are two very different things. You can look beautiful, but be unhappy or uncomfortable, or feel amazing in your own skin. One thing I've learned over the years is that being comfortable and feeling great in my own skin is an important lesson. I will look at the mirror and say "I am beautiful African princess" we should learn to love our body  sooner rather than later. Why would I sacrifice my happiness just to conform to standards of beauty? It doesn't make any sense. 

I usually get comments like "You'd look better with a little meat on your bones". "You should shop in the kids section". My body is bound to change as I grow up, and starving myself or eating "Too much" won't stop or help that. I love my food too much to even go on a diet. To be honest, you should only care about making yourself happy rather than making other, judgemental people happy. 

 Beyonc√© is beautiful beyond belief, in practically any society’s standards. Apparently, she fights to motivate girls to love their own bodies. We should not wait for celebrities to inspire us to love ourselves and our bodies. Insecurity attacks girls of all shapes, sizes, and colours but it’s important to remember that we are all equally gorgeous. Next time you walk by a mirror, don’t poke at your fat, or point out your flaws, instead find the unique beauty that only you possess.   

(Riya Jama. Toronto, Canada. No Makeup Selfie)

(Sawiya Ali. London. England. No Makeup Selfie)

(Sawiya, Sumaya Ladan and Najma. Somfest2015)
As far as body image issues go, weight is probably the most prominent one. Girls are taught from a very young age that they are supposed to be skinny. Eating disorders have become incredibly common because girls of all ages feel the need to fit society’s idea of beauty. There are 7 and 8 year olds across the country that are dieting and that is just ridiculousNot everyone is skinny and sometimes our faces aren’t as clear as we’d like. This needs to be portrayed in the media. Currently, Social Media is our worst enemy, we have endless articles with titles such as; "how to finally master contouring" "Lose Weight Fast" "Ways to make your skin lighter" "Tips for short girls to appear taller".  Magazines, TV shows and movies almost exclusively feature thin, clear skinned, taller than average girls with large breasts. The impact this has on impressionable young girls is alarming. It isn’t only the younger ladies that find it hard to bear though. Seeing how the media portrays beauty can be incredibly damaging to a woman’s self-esteem at any age.

Young Women sharing their body image experiences...
(Amal.19. Birmingham/ England) 
"Me and my cousins grew up together and I used to be a little chubbier than the others. Somali ladies and outsiders would pick on me and say "you're pretty for your age and so light, a shame you're fat!" I was 15 at that time. I did not know what to say and this is one of the many reasons why I still have insecurities. I grew up with ezcema, a chronicle skin condition which causes outbreaks, hyperpigmentation, rashes and redness. I have ezcema on my face and the  
rest of my body, growing up people would ask me "why are your eyelids so dark? And what are these rashes on your face? Looks weird"   Somali ladies would constantly tell me to bleach that area so it'd match my "beautifully light skin".   Body image affected me a lot growing up and till this day it does. Alhamdulillah time went by, I found out what triggered my ezcema and it's a lot better and barely noticeable. I did lose a little weight throughout the year, but during those years I learned to love and respect myself. It's hard not to give up & do whatever people tell you to do because you think they're right, but it's worth it."        
(Sumaya and Sawiya. England. London.)
My sister and I are like best friends, we do everything together. We get our hair done, shop, you name it. But Every Time I go out I hear references relating to how she's lighter than me, and how if we are really sisters and so on and so forth. Growing up was long, because random Somali ladies always used to say to me that bright colours do not suit my skin tone as I was dark. I never used to wear bright colours because of the stigma attached. I am more confident now and I wear bright colours, but that's not even the main thing. One occasion, my sister and I went hairdressers. So I'm in line to get my hair and brows done, and Sawiya was heading out to grab food, she leaves. And this somali woman who I don't even know starts cackling to herself like some lost soul. She then said "is she your sister? Why is she lighter than you? Look at you! you're dark! you're ugly, your brows are hideous! bleach yourself to be beautiful like your sister  I can't even believe you two are sisters, you're hideous. If you bleached yourself you'll find a nice guy Blah blah"  Ain't gonna lie, out of anger, I cried. How can I can I fight some any random middle aged Somali mother? My mum handled that. This happened when I was 16. Anyways, some Somalis have this perception that being light skin is a blessing and gods gift to this world. It's sad. It occurs more in the older generation. Many girls that I know bleached themselves so much that they look Arab. I lost contact with one old friend and I bumped into her, not recognizing who she was. It's sad how society forces you to change yourself for their pleasure. No. I know this is long. But I'm dark, brown and proud.       Another occasion, was when this black (ok she bleached) some grey lady (kmt) came up to me (this year) and said how I was pretty but would be even beautiful if I was white. And she tried to persuade me to bleach. She said being black is dirty"

(Munira. Coventry.England)
"Women around the world, whether you are from Tokyo, Zimbabwe or the South of France, we all carry insecurities, installed in us by society. Growing up, we all have carried insecurities about our bodies and the way we look. For me, my acne has continued to be my biggest insecurity I have been carrying to date. Spots, or in my case Cystic Acne, has been a part of my life ever since I can rememberIn the beginning stages of my acne, I would often visit doctors, dermatologist and all sorts of specialist, praying and wishing something would clear up my skin. I felt ugly, and alone, and would often hide my skin, covering up my skin with endless amounts of Make-Up, made me secure in being seen in public. As a teenager, I would often shy away from others because I was insecure with the way I looked. It was only once I entered my twenties, when I learned to embrace my insecurities. I have grown to accept that my skin may never become clear, and that’s ok.  I have come to understand now that my worth is not defined by the way I look, but rather what I bring to the world. Whilst there is no understanding of what causes Cystic Acne, some doctors believe hormones play a part. It often happens when spots become infected, this then causes the skin to have more breakouts. This of course is not a pretty sight for a young woman growing up.     
Unfortunately unlike others, I don’t suffer from the odd pimple here and there, as my acne is more severe, and because of this, it has caused large areas of my skin to be permanently scarred.     
It is such a shame that society has placed this idea into the world, that I must have perfect skin, and anything less than perfect is simply not acceptable .I am constantly bombarded with advertisements, women’s magazines and television shows telling me how to ‘look perfect’What they don’t all realise is that my imperfections are what make me perfect. It is such a shame that we are told that loving our bodies is us carrying ‘vanity’. 

 I would like to ask what exactly is vain about loving who you are. Learning to love yourself, and the way you look should fundamentally be the most important thing we do as young women. Our bodies may not be perfect, and that’s perfectly ok. What should be important is what we bring to the world. Our ideas, thoughts and opinions of issues that are significant to us, I truly believe more Importance needs to be placed on that.We are all strong young women with voices, attitudes and ideas that need to be addressed. Our bodies belong to us. We need to stand up for young women across the world, and radicalise that we are beautiful no matter what the media or society says. Let’s stand up united together as one, and advocate to women around the world ‘You are Beautiful’. "    

After reading this, I hope you realize how uniquely beautiful your body is, and know that it’s never necessary to take extreme measures to change your body in any way.
You are amazing just the way you are.

Jennifer Lawrence talks body image - BBC Newsnight

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