“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” - Lao Tzu.
Today, I am taking that step through writing out my thoughts on an issue that is sensitive and personal to me: body-image bullying. In the past, I was ashamed to discuss this subject but I soon realized that this is an important topic to share. I have come to learn that if I don’t speak up, who will?
Years ago, my second-year social psychology professor shared a case with our class that taught me to never rely on someone else to take action. My professor was talking about the famous Kitty Genovese case that occurred during the early 1960’s. In a populous U.S. neighbourhood one morning, Kitty was attacked on a street and left to die over a 45-minute period. Kitty’s death was heart-breaking for its needlessness: 38 people witnessed her attack, but none did anything to help her! Kitty’s story is not the only documented case of the Bystander Effect; there are many more where people didn’t do anything to help someone in extreme need; they thought another person was taking care of it. John Darley and Bibb Latané have done fascinating studies on Bystander Apathy, looking at how people abdicate responsibility for helping those they see in distress. My psychology professor reinforced to our class that we should not act like such bystanders; instead, we should help others in need. I took her advice to heart; since then, my motto has been to do too much, rather than not enough, to help others.
As you may have noticed, there is a common element that runs throughout my blog, which is body-image bullying. In today’s society, many people and organizations are doing work in both body image and bullying; because of all this work, I could say, “Why should I help? Others are already taking care of these issues.” However, I’ve realized that while I can’t control how others act, I can control how I react to a situation. Therefore, I am taking a stand and adding my voice to the public discussion on body image and bullying! Despite the efforts of many self-help books, seminars, and television shows focused on enhancing individuals’ self-esteem, many people still feel as if they “aren’t good enough.” That is why I am speaking out and sharing my personal journey with these issues. I think it is really important to talk about body-image bullying; hence, I will focus my upcoming blog topics around it.
Throughout my life, I have struggled: comparing myself to images of women in the media and letting this comparison influence my behaviour, treatment of my body, and my attitude. I felt I didn’t measure up to the widespread notions of the “ideal” body shown in the media. I was in a constant battle to not let these unrealistic images influence my view of myself. I felt like I should change myself and my imperfections to this standard “perfect” body-image in order to be happy and to be accepted by others.
You see, I’m a thinker, a sharer, and an educator; but, I’m also a doer. The idea to share my story about body-image issues on my blog occurred two years ago when I was on family vacation in the beautiful U.S. state of Hawaii. While relaxing on the beach, I looked around and saw everyone smiling, having fun, enjoying the surroundings, and at peace. Hawaii is a special place. I saw women and men from all over the world of many shapes and sizes. The one thing I realized while at the beach was that everybody was beautiful. They all had the positive energy which Hawaii’s culture fosters, and they were having fun. There was no focus on physical appearance. In these people’s eyes, every body was beautiful. Everyone was enjoying the environment and the community. Hence, I thought I should start a blog to inspire people to become healthier, more confident, and happier. The blog was also to reflect my personal stories which had influenced the way I feel today.
On my blog, my intent is to share my experiences and stories, as well as the empirical research which supports them. We all live our own lives, making our experiences and the way we see our lives unique. Yet, because we are all human, we all share fundamental life experiences.
I am here to share my story and the thoughts that go along with it. I have been bullied by others and have been a bully to myself. I have wasted a lot of time – comparing myself to others and criticizing myself.
I am channelling the energy that I spent on worrying about my body image issues into fostering a place where we can learn, heal, and grow from: Arianna’s Random Thoughts.
Think of my blog as a place where you can go to get comfort if you’ve had a bad day.
I remember a few years ago someone said a comment to me which hurt deeply. I confided in a friend about it, who then texted me to meet at her place in a bit. When I showed up, she surprised me with a cup of hot chocolate and an array of my favourite chocolates. She let me vent. As I talked, my hurt became smaller. Such kindness and support are what I hope this site can be to you in your times of trial.
Looking forward to starting the next step of the journey with you!
I hope you will be along for the ride!
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!