Name: Becky Welch
Why did you agree to take part in this Q&A?
To help my lovely friend Aimee out
At what age do you think you first began to take notice of your body image?
Possibly between 9 and 10
What made you take notice?
I would probably say getting changed in PE. Well I would say that made me self-conscious but I can’t really pin point what made me initially take notice in the first place.
Would you say that your thoughts on your body image began as positive or negative?
Why do you think that was?
Because I have always been quite big, slightly over-weight.
How have your thoughts on your body image changed over time?
Probably just got worse, I can’t wear short sleeves due to how I feel about my arms. This causes so much stress in the summer months, when I’m boiling hot and all I want to do is take my cardigan off.
In what way do you think your thoughts on your body image impact your mental health?
My weight goes up and down a lot so I know from experience that the bigger I am, the less confidence I have. Self confidence, social anxiety and general ‘shyness’ are all things that I struggle with, all of which are worsened if I’m feeling and looking bigger. This can also effect my mood. I don’t particularly like going to parties or places where I would have to dress up as I don’t feel comfortable in nice clothes and find myself comparing myself to others. But by not going I just end up isolating myself and wishing that I was different. I always look at photos on Facebook etc afterwards feeling left out and wishing that I had gone.
What do you think about the media’s portrayal of body image?
Quite negative, and most of the time, unrealistic or unhealthy. Magazines etc go through a lot of photoshopping/airbrushing before publishing to perfect the image, obviously this is giving people unachieveable goals with regards to their bodies or appearance in general. I recently read an article about an ex ‘influencer’ who said her secret to keeping her slim figure was a diet of black coffee and cocaine. The fact that she felt the need to keep up the lifestyle just in order to maintain that figure so she could keep doing what she did on social media is so sad. Luckily, when she fell pregnant she completely changed her lifestyle and gave up drugs. But that article could be read and taken both in a positive and negative way. One girl may read it and think how unrealistic it is to look that way, focus on a healthy lifestyle and learn to love her body – her ‘real world’ body. Another girl could read it and take those unhealthy habits as tips to also achieve a figure like the influencer.
If you could say one thing (about body image) to people, what would it be?
Focusing on your healthy, both mental and physical, is so much more important than body image. Everyone is different, everyone has their flaws. Doing things that are unhealthy to achieve something that is (often) unrealistic, is never going to be a good idea. Especially in the long run.