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Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Body Image - 'Mind Over Muscle'

Written by: Oskar Shorthose - NICCY Youth Panel 

Today’s society comes with a lot more pressures and influences on people of all types and ages – this includes young men and the so called ‘Perfect Body’.

Young men of all ages look to different places for guidance on what they want to be and achieve in this crazy world – it may be social media, YouTube or just the vast internet. What’s troubling is that all such places are filled with pictures of photoshopped, fake and unrealistic physiques that are apparently so easy to get!

So, the next time you watch a video labelled ‘How to get a Six-Pack in Minutes’, try to pay attention to a few things:

  • How perfect is the picture quality and camera being used?
  • What make up is the model wearing or how perfect is their hair?
  • How perfect are their words and sentences?
  • How perfect is the lighting and angles?
  • What camera shots are being focused in on?

Without you telling me, I can already guess all those things are perfect – the lighting, sound, speech and even the background! This is because it is all measured and calculated. These videos and the models and articles are designed to grab our attention and gain views, sales or popularity because it earns them money. So many hours are put into finding the right background, designing a script to be said, including ‘buzz’ words, and making the model look perfect. None of this is natural and none of it is reality.

Even the professionals on TV are plastered in fake tan; they have their hair done and have to take dangerous measures to pronounce their features and body types. Before their shows, bodybuilders starve themselves and do not drink anything in fear of not looking so buff. Is this reality? Is this even remotely close to reality? Most of the time, the end result is somebody so grotesquely muscular that is clearly not in good health. This is a very dangerous pursuit and many educated professionals would advise avoiding it.

We shouldn’t hide from such things either. A lot of hard work and dedication has been put into such things and it most certainly is not easy. Instead, we should give the experienced professionals the credit they deserve and acknowledge that most of us are unable to achieve such impossible feats without danger and harm. Being fit and active is a crucial part of a person’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally. It has been proven to maintain health and also improve studies! However, we should be calm and calculated in our approach to getting fit and healthy.

Try a new sport. Go for a run. You can do anything you want – you might be surprised at what your secret talents are. Enrol in the next fun run, or join your local football club, just don’t turn to unhealthy lifestyles in pursuit of fitness.

Don’t skip meals, don’t take risky supplements and don’t compare yourself to the ‘perfect’ people on stage. Be yourself and there is no end to the possibilities open to you in the world of sport and activity.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

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