Not only has 2022 been a challenging year for the entirety of the United Kingdom thanks to the cost of living crisis, instability within our government, the Ukraine war and the ongoing pandemic – among a million other things – but it has been hands down the worst year for my body confidence, which doesn’t exactly bode well when you class yourself as a body confident advocate.
Having lived my life online since I was 16, documenting everything on Instagram and my blog, it took me years to cultivate a body-positive image and I have always been open and honest with my journey to self-acceptance. Thanks to the pandemic and social media, I learned to love my body the most in lockdown, so it was accustomed that being thrown back into ‘normal life’ would wreak havoc with my mental health and perception of my body – and it’s safe to say it did just that.
In 2022 I gained new stretch marks for the first time since my early teens, noticed cellulite more, cried over my reflection in the mirror and felt strange in clothes I had previously been confident in. I’ve looked at my naked body and wished it looked different, feared what anybody would think if they ever saw it (I’ve been single and celibate all of my life), and constantly been thinking about how I can alter it to fit in with the modern world more. I guess you could say that the past 11-12 months have been complete hell for somebody who preaches about body acceptance.
See, 2020 and the lockdowns we endured really helped me and so many others cultivate huge body confidence – which is why it feels so strange to be at war with my own body once again. But with life back to normal, socialising firmly back on the agenda, bikinis to wear in the summer and the pressure to look good creeping back into our lives – women seem to be being reduced to trends once more.
Wreaking havoc with our mental health, it seems as though past obsessions and new internet trends like “heroin chic” – where thin is in and curves are out; and “that girl” – where from the second we rise at 5am we’re in the gym and living a perfectly constructed and scheduled life, are drowning out the body acceptance content that dominated almost three years ago. Remember all of those upbeat videos where we celebrated our bodies instead of turning them into objects of perfection?
Well, instead of upbeat trends that allow us to cultivate healthy self acceptance habits, in 2022 we’ve been constantly and subliminally hit with images of so-called perfection and societal beauty standards. Whether it’s a trend we see on social media, or a reality star on a chat show who has gone from a curvaceous hourglass figure that was once aspired to, to heroin chic, thin and enhancements reversed in a matter of months – it seems we’re all being fed body trends when women’s bodies shouldn’t be reduced to such a thing.
But I’d be silly to think I was the only one who has had a tough time with body acceptance in the past year or so. According to the Forbes Health-Ipsos survey, 60% of people asked said their body image didn’t change throughout the pandemic, but out of those who said it did – 27% said they became more concerned with it. This rings true for Carly Rowena, founder of Moodment and author of My Beautiful Body, who told GLAMOUR that she has found body image expectations to have increased during and post-Covid “so much”. She added: “And, mix it with the new busy lifestyles and it’s only natural that people are going to be more self-conscious about their appearance.”