When I ask this question to the people I interview for The Body Image Project
9 times out of 10, people usually laugh. They become embarrassed to invite me into the most private part of their lives: their self-image. It is a simple, yet complex question, which can either have a response of laughter or tears.
I started the Body Image Project to answer these questions and more. The play is based off of a series of interviews I have had with men and women internationally about their feelings about their bodies. I have interviewed: women with MS; transgendered men and women; pageant contestants; plastic surgeons; plus size men and women and many more.
In this blog entry I would like to discuss the direct correlation between depression and negative body image. I know a lot of you know what I mean when I say this. How many times have you looked in the mirror and been absolutely okay with what you see? For those of you who answered yes to the question, congratulations, you are a rare beautiful breed. According to DOSOMETHING.ORG’s recent poll on women’s body image:
Approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media. (http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-body-image)
Men don’t think you are left out of this equation. According to the Guardian:
body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women. Similarly, 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body – again, a higher proportion than women.
Even when seeing these statistics I am not shocked. Look at the media. The radio, television, film, magazines, everything is filled with sex. It is ridiculous. Miley Cyrus is Twerking!!! Little Miley Cyrus from the Disney Channel!! What is the world coming to?
In today’s world, a majority of us seem to desire a quick fix everything. We want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks; we want to buy an Instant Abs Belt and the Shake Weight. We all desire higher, perky boobs, and solid pectorals. We want flat stomachs and an abundance of hair around our hairline. We want quick results to our entire lives. We want a life of moments. I truly believe, in this day and age, people will not truly appreciate the “concept” of time until it is too late.
Sometimes depression about body image can stem from family, friends and/or the media. Sometimes it can be a self-induced pressure to fit a particular mold of what’s popular now. Depression can stem from what an ex- boyfriend or girlfriend may have said to us. It can develop from not seeing the perfect weight on the scale. It can develop from not seeing yourself with REALISTIC eyes.
The thing about depression is that it can come in waves, or it can lie on top of you and feel like a wet wool blanket. Depression can wrap you up and kiss you goodnight, and keep you in pajamas for weeks at a time. It can tie you to four horses and quarter you. It can keep you in a bar for hours at a time and it can also keep you in bed with someone that does not deserve you. Depression can chase you into the kitchen for multiple midnight snacks and it can haunt you with night terrors. It can lie next to you and tell you that you’re not worthy, or tell you that you are ugly. Depression about body image can stem from a myriad of different things and the quest, which we have to figure out together, is how to move forward. How do we get the winning hand?
My depression about my body image stemmed from the death of my father. When my father died, I died with him. I did not cry for years. Depression crept into the form of constantly snacking, drinking and dating lots of fools that did not deserve me. I gained over a 100 pounds in the four years after my father’s death. I got involved in abusive relationships, because depression lied and told me I was not worthy of anything greater. I was constantly eating and drinking away my feelings. Every time I looked in the mirror: I saw my weight; the death of my father; the abusive relationships; as well as a childhood that was taken away from me due to years of molestation. Every time one of those memories popped into my head, depression and I suppressed them and went to bars together and drank shots of tequila and laughed. With the whirlwind of feeling unworthy and hating myself I attempted suicide in February of 2011.
It was not until I moved out of America to the UK in September 2011, that I began to escape the grips of depression. I got myself into therapy, and began discovering who I was and what I wanted. I began to workout slowly, but surely. The process of loving myself is the beginning stages, but I am so thankful that I am slowly leaving the grips of depression. It is really difficult, but it is really a fight against the enemy. It is a difficult fight, but it will be the most rewarding to finally regain your life.
I know that body image and depression can be directly correlated. You may have body dysmorphic disorder; be a cutter; have an eating disorder; you may have been sexually abused; you may be anorexic or bulimic; “underweight” or “overweight”; or you might just hate yourself through and through. Just know, that the best way to overcome the teeth of depression is to begin to love small things about you. I am still learning this, but you can have complete joy. You can love your life and your body. You can have peace that surpasses all understanding. We can fight the lies of depression with truth!
Look yourself in the mirror and find one thing you can somewhat appreciate. It can be something as silly as your ear lobes or cuticles! Find one thing and focus on it. Begin to move past the negative images of self one day at a time. Get into therapy. Begin doing positive things that make you happy and joyous. Join a gospel choir, work at an animal shelter, see a play, take a walk outside and enjoy the creations of God’s earth. Depression is no joke, and even if you are medicated for it, take small moments to just appreciate and love one thing about you. This life is extremely short and my mission is to help people love themselves for who they are now in this moment. You are a beautifully imperfect human being. Live in this truth and love it.
If you would like to be interviewed for The Body Image Project play please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
actor | director | playwright
The Body Image Project
Body Image Project Play on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKUGpyBmFjA