The invisible prison of the body image

Where do our ideas about body image and beauty come from?

The invisible prison of the body image

Our bodies are living parts of nature. The nature of this earth is amazingly manifold and beautiful. All of us experience the beauty of nature as inspiring, uplifting, settling and calming.

We might prefer to put a fresh rose on the dinner table rather than a dried-up autumn leaf, but we don’t judge and condemn the autumn leave to be ugly, do we? Most will find beauty in almost everything of the cycle of nature.

So why do we treat our human bodies differently?

Have we considered that what we believe to be a standard of beauty is actually ‘made up’? That we have actually been conditioned to judge and compare our physical appearance according to a set look dictated by a bunch of people who create fashion, magazines, movies, paintings and so on.

We have always striven to conquer, improve, manipulate and ‘beautify’ nature in every way we can. The designs of gardens and public spaces, for example, are often dictated by architects or bureaucrats who want to create something different with an ‘improved’, modern, artificial nature look, even to the point of manipulating plants through genetics, breeding and grafting.

But the bees and butterflies don’t care … they go to the sweetness of flowers, whatever the setting.

So do young children: they don’t care about our looks, what we wear, make up or not, thin or obese, long legs, short legs, white, brown, yellow or blue skin. They go to the sweetness of the heart – what we are inside, love.

We all have felt it, the innocent openness and intimacy when a child looks into our eyes and connects. And we love and cherish that feeling of joy. In those moments we forget what we look like, it doesn’t matter.

Yet, when we walk around adults it all changes dramatically. Suddenly it feels like all the eyes looking are comparing, judging or condemning. A big part of that is our judgement of ourselves in comparison to the other and to our imagination of what we want to or should look like, and whether we feel more beautiful than the other or below them, and in that there is no true connection possible.

We are well and truly locked up in our invisible prison of comparison and judgement. More often than not, the same applies to the people around us, where all of us walking around in our invisible cage of imagery and expectation of how we and others should look like, behave, smell like, how to move, how to speak and so on. We might feel either deflated, given up or shy when we don’t measure up, or satisfied, proud or elated when we look the part, due to having achieved the ‘perfect’ figure, make up or clothing, or being born ‘lucky’ with the perfect look of the season.

But it’s all false and only serves to keep us locked in our prison.

No matter how well we measure up, how much we diet to keep the figure, how often we have facials or go to the hairdresser to perfect our looks – yes, even all the cosmetic surgery in the world – none of it will give us the deep settlement of being loved through and through, just as we are, because that is what we are really craving underneath all that need to be liked or at last accepted in our appearance.

And anyway, let’s face it, the pictures and artificial standards of physical beauty, as deposited into us by the fashion and media industries, are unachievable by the large majority of humanity, so why are we buying into that crazy game?

We are designed to have different bodies, so why not accept that and enjoy the variety? We are all intrinsically unique in every detail of our physique and each one of us is beautiful in their own way. And further, when looking into each other’s eyes deeply, we will see immense, indescribable beauty beyond the physical.

Just like children, we always feel much more of the whole being if we would only stop being focussed on the outside look alone.

Although perhaps deeply buried underneath our conditioning ideas and self-judgement we all know within ourselves that we are beautiful inside, that we are capable of true unconditional love and worth to be loved wholly to the core. If only we wouldn’t be so distracted and stuck in the constant chatter of external standards and comparison in our minds and therefore doubt ourselves and fall for the idea that we are not good enough for the world out there, that we need to adapt, improve, look like this or that to be accepted and have a place in the world out there. And the imposed ideal body image is always right in front of us, not only in form of photos in magazines, papers, billboards, packaging of goods and social media of any kind, but it’s most likely the first thing that comes to mind the moment we look into a mirror.

We need to overcome that very damaging and false idea of the ideal physical appearance and come back to the real values in us.

When we reconnect to what we know and feel inside – our tenderness and loveliness that we always had since we were born – and let that be and grow within us to fill our whole being and permeate through our movements, and when we learn to keep that quality in our consciousness while we observe the chatter of comparison that might invade our minds again and again, we will come to rest within ourselves and start to have a more solid foundation in our true inner qualities, from where can see not only ourselves in our true beauty, but also everybody else.

To relate to each other from our inner beauty and our true qualities is so much more enriching than walking around and trying to relate from cages made of extremely separating pictures, comparing looks and competitive thoughts. Once we let those cages go, we will see beauty and value in the unique expression of ourselves and everybody else, as the inner qualities shine through our body, face, movement and voice.

Because our bodies are made to express what is inside, not to just carry around a coat of outer appearance, it is the state of being inside that determines in the most part how others will perceive us and vice versa. Yes, we are fooled often by the perfect look, but only because we are looking through the glasses of comparison and judgement. When taking off those glasses and perceiving the other from our inner heart qualities, it is an entirely different connection and we might feel or see the falseness of a ‘put-on’ appearance, the sadness and loneliness of a wall of protection or the hardness of the drive to perfection, and then also the quality of being that is behind the façade. And often, when we open ourselves to the other and not put up a wall of judgement, they can also let go, maybe just a little, of the façade they thought they needed, and a true connection can be experienced.

Because that is what we all really want – to connect and see each other as we truly are, in all our inner beauty and glory.

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Body imageJoyLoveTenderness

  • By Regina Perlwitz, Translator, Editor, Writer

    I love making The Way of The Livingness and the Ageless Wisdom accessible to all by living and reflecting it, by writing about my experiences and by translating texts from the English Unimed Living website for the Unimed Living Deutsch site.

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.