Body Part Envy and Photoshop Image Distortion
Are we allowed to be humans anymore?
As a personal trainer, a common request you will get from clients is the desire to have Jennifer Lopez’s legs or Kim Kardashian’s butt... abs like this one’s, arms like that one’s and so on. Whenever a client comes to me with a request like this, I usually let them focus on that from the onset, but spend my time and energy guiding them towards a healthier, more all-encompassing viewpoint; one which involves a re-enforcing of the whole picture - their mind/body and their fitness.
Your body is not an unconnected and incoherent jumble of pieces.
Everything works together in concert, and develops best when it develops together. So when we totally fixate on a particular body part, it seems to be the last part to change no matter how much we work it. This is because while there may be some improvement on the part of your body you are fixated on, when the surrounding tissue is not getting the proper attention, it will cover up some of your hard work.
One cannot work only one area of your body, expecting it to morph you into something completely different. Yes, exercise and dietary and mental changes can do wonders, but it has to be a complete package. It has to encompass all of you, not in bits and pieces. You are not a living Photoshop.
Speaking of Photoshop... there are many reasons so many people feel the need to focus heavily on specific areas of their body, but one of the largest reasons has no basis in reality whatsoever. When used properly, Photoshop is supposed to do what lighting could not catch in the studio, fix camera angles that made something look distorted, take out unwanted marks or fix little things here and there; it’s supposed to help a photo look more like reality. But oftentimes billboard ads, magazines and commercial images go too far and create unrealistic images.
The woman in this video starts out as a healthy and athletic human being... and ends up looking like a freakish alien.
Look up some websites about Photoshop gone bad; it's actually helpful to see the extreme cases of photo editing. Laugh at them and understand how removed from reality the images can be.
We all need to be allowed to be human. Being human doesn’t make us ugly, disfigured or flawed. It makes us human. With image altering going haywire in the magazines and in advertisements, where does the norm fall these days? What is this fear of accepting the human form as it is? Why does this "everyone has to fit into the box" mentality still rule?
When you directly compare yourself to people who are celebrated for their physique, you are setting up artificial barriers between yourself and your success. It, for some, creates a feeling or sense of inadequacy and in many cases it is born of low self esteem when it comes to their own body image.
When someone has low self esteem regarding their body image, it may show as shyness or as being withdrawn from society; they may be somewhat of a hermit. If they then for some reason become comfortable with their body (let’s say they lose weight or gain muscle), they may become more outgoing and social. Then, should the unfortunate event happen that their physical state changes for what they consider the worse; they return to their initial, introverted state again. It is very important to work on the self-esteem part along with the “getting in shape” part.
When someone is fixated on a body part they want to change, I often find that there is an underlying cause. It is vital to search, detangle and release (if possible) the underlying cause as best you can. You need your support system.
A Call to Action
I am on a mission. Well, two missions, to be honest.
One: Change the way the world look at fitness and what beauty is.
Two: Teach the world how to improve playfully with proper form, injury-free.
Find what is exclusively you, and build upon that!
Rather than chop yourself up into a bunch of incoherent pieces, work as a complete picture - work to have a lovely posture, beautiful lines, smile, keep your head lifted, when the light hits your sternum, it lights up your face. Focus on your improvements; no matter how small they may seem; enough pennies make a million dollars!
Focus on and enjoy the parts you like, and see ANY improvement, even the tiniest improvement of the areas you are finding challenging. Refuse to look at them in a negative light; refuse to fall into that old, detrimental thinking pattern - it didn’t help you then and it’s not going t help you now.
Try your best to let your fixation on improving single body parts go, just a little bit even if it is a bit tricky, and keep working your body as a whole and enjoy! Know that looking like a magazine model isn't essential for being fit (the model might not even look like that), it's finding the right size that makes you optimally healthy, happy and keeps you
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”—Franz Kafka