Upon watching this first DTV episode, it was exactly how I imagined the series to look. It’s a wonderful combination of the fictional universe and real-life perspective from fans.
When it comes to body image, there’s really no way to look at it in such black and white terms. The world isn’t strictly composed of people who are either supremely confident in themselves and love their body 100% or people who have a poor body image and have developed eating disorders. There’s a lot happening in between and a lot of variations of one’s feelings, depending on your own personal experience.
The very best thing to do is to love yourself and show respect toward others, and I’d be lying if I told you the former was easy to do all the time. One thing this generation should know based on the prevalence of social media is that society loves to talk out of both sides of its mouth. One minute it preaches “love yourself” and “everyone is beautiful,” and next thing you know you’re getting bullied and criticized, and being told that the things that make you different from other people make you worthless. As someone currently in my 30’s who finally feels as if I’m coming into my own in terms of self worth, it’s critical to be confident in yourself and understand your own value, regardless of what everyone else is saying and doing. One thing alone (i.e. looks) doesn’t define you as a whole, because we are all complex creatures by default. Because of that, I keep a screenshot of this tweet on my phone:
When it comes to my own body image, it’s always been a battle trying hard not to compare myself to other guys, the ones who are stronger, cooler or better looking than myself…and they manage to get the girl with zero effort (and it stings if it’s a girl I like). I know that feeling Manny had in U Got The Look, where you want to be viewed as hot as opposed to people looking right through you, or them patting you on the head and telling you how wonderful you are in every way possible while also saying they’ll never date you in a million years. It’s easy to say “don’t care what anyone thinks about you,” but sometimes it takes a long time for that idea to finally stick in this world where the “goals” are to live happily ever after with someone and have a bunch of friends by your side. I’m far less self conscious about my perceived appearance than I used to be, but I still feel weird sometimes though; being a Degrassian means I’m a guy in a predominately-female fandom, where for years I’ve had to read about how hot *insert any male celeb* is on a daily basis. It’s not even about wanting to be desired by the people saying those things…it’s equally as weird hearing guys shamelessly drool over supermodels/hot girls in skimpy clothing and the like. The thought process of us “regular” people is, “If these super attractive celebrities whose lives are seen through a limited filter are the standard for what’s considered most desirable, how in the heck am I supposed to compete with that?” It’s a challenge to ignore the fact that the world is looks-driven when it’s constantly in our faces, and even when we know for a fact things like magazine covers are routinely photoshopped.
While the aspect of physical attractiveness might mess with my confidence a bit, comments about my weight have no real effect on me and are annoying at best. I’m a skinny guy, and no lie I’ve stayed at the same weight for the past 15 years. I get the same comments about how I should eat more (even though I eat at least 3 meals a day) and how I need to “put more meat on my bones,” and occasionally people feel the need to pick me up to see just how light I am. I’ve never been self conscious about my weight and I refuse to be despite what anyone thinks; “skinny genes” run in my family!
The struggle of yourself vs. body image vs. the world will always be there. Learn to ignore the white noise. What you can control is what you do and how you feel. If you’re like I was for my teenage/early adult years, the voice in your head is far harder on you than the world will ever be. Know your worth; you determine that, no one else. Know that you have more to offer the world than what you see in the mirror. Don’t downplay what you’re good at just to beat yourself up over bad stuff. Middle and high school can be brutal, man. I’ve been bullied and also spent time sitting alone at lunch because I was painfully shy and awkward, and didn’t know where the heck I would fit in. But “status” and everything else you think is important as a teenager means absolutely nothing once you get into adulthood.
And all of this advice about being positive and people telling you, “you’re beautiful just the way you are” means nothing if you aren’t willing to consciously work on being confident in yourself and your abilities, despite what everyone else says.