Are we building our body image, or, is our image building our body?

Are we building our body image, or, is our image building our body?

Body Image – two words we often hear commonly associated with women. But what about men? Immediately we think of the obsessed body builder stereotype, but what about the rest of us? Are we caught up in body image as well? Is it possible that we all get caught up in body image? What if the sloppily dressed and slightly overweight man with his well worn T-shirt hanging out is actually trying to make a statement, no different to the bodybuilder?

And if so, what made him choose that image, and did he truly choose it on his own merits?

I can remember all throughout growing up as a boy, developing into a teenager, and into a man, there were many images I observed about what I should and could look like in life. To me it wasn’t really a matter of building a body image for myself, but simply making a choice as to which image out there I wanted to re-create. I had a vast selection to choose from, no different to all the many diverse flavours and colours of ice cream available in the ice-cream shop.

I could choose the hard tough heavyset image, which seemed very solid and unbreakable. There was the very disregarding image that seemed very easy to establish without needing to try very hard to please others. I could seek the clean-cut blue collar or white-collar image to fly under the radar and just follow along with the comfortable system of life that seemed very easy and unchallenging. Or I could choose the image of the family man with the strong ideals about life that are good, right and which just seemed very likeable to many and an easy way to get through life. The list of choices (flavours of ice-cream) seemed to go on and on.

There were many choices, many different looks and images I could put on myself to wear in life. The real struggle I faced was that it didn’t really matter what I chose because they all meant the same thing. I was creating something that wasn’t the ‘real me’.

I began to ask myself the question, did I really have a choice of whether I even wanted to eat ice cream or not? With each image I could choose, was it just a matter of which one I thought I needed to choose?

This question proved to be a big step.

It was the beginning:

  • It helped me understand that I could actually differentiate between what I felt was me, and what I thought I had to be!
  • It also helped to free me from the pressure I thought was there about what image I thought I needed to create to suit my ideal life.
  • I am not identified by any hat I may wear in life or role that I may play in the world. I am always learning how to drop away ideas of what I think the body image I need to create is, and by virtue of this, slowly and steadily every day, I am enjoying discovering the amazing man that I can now say was already there.

Today I am not perfect, but from this simple step I took with myself, I live to the best of my ability.