Rejecting Magazines and Mirrors

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It’s become increasingly clear to me that magazines and many publications, television shows, and other forms of pop culture are not good for my mental health. When I was a young teenager (around 14-15) I was subscribed to at least three magazines: Teen People, Seventeen, and Girl (I think that’s the name of it?); and later we also received subscriptions to People StyleWatch and US Weekly, plus Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. I would also buy copies of Cosmo and hide them under my bed. This was peak media consumption. I was bombarded with media telling me what is hot and what is not and what I should like. Specifically, Seventeen, Us Weekly, and People StyleWatch taught me a lot: Importance of skin care, importance of dressing for your body type, and of course, how to talk to boys. But after the ages of 17/18/19 it became problematic for me to keep reading these things. I was adopting the preconceived notion that I would be successful if I followed their advice. And I had to recognize that while some advice may be helpful, I still had a brain and I still had opinions that mattered. And these things did nothing to help my self-esteem.

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In recent years society has become more body positive, and I’m all for that. It’s just that we have this counter-culture telling young girls and young women how they should interact with their bodies. I don’t think I’m going to be 100% happy with my body. I wonder if it has anything to do with growing up with magazines telling me how I should be. However,  I can accept my body for what it is and what it can do.

I don’t own a full length mirror. I don’t read magazines like Cosmo or Us Weekly. I don’t own a scale. And I’m better for it. My self-confidence is in a better place now than it ever was in the height of my obsession with all things TV and magazines. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. I don’t care anymore. I think there’s a certain point in everyone’s life where they stop caring about certain things and how people perceive them (to an extent).
  2. Once I stopped nit-picking my body by taking away the full-length mirror, I was able to focus my mental energy on other activities.
  3. Seeing Photoshopped bodies is not realistic. Acknowledging this and understanding that my body does not have to look like that was a big step.

I do still wear a lot of make-up and I like to watch make-up tutorials on YouTube. I still take care of myself by having a skin care routine and going to the gym on a semi-regular basis. I still use mirrors and look in them (i.e. in bathrooms and fitting rooms), I’m not a freaking vampire! Body positivity works differently for everyone. For me, removing negative influences from my life helped a lot. But I didn’t realize the negative impacts magazines were having until I took a break from them. Part of this “break” was simply growing up, I stopped seeing myself in magazines and I outgrew the content.

What I have learned from rejecting magazines and mirrors is that my opinion matters. How I take care of myself can be influenced by media like magazines, but I know what’s best for me and I can live my life without it.

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