It is often said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This concept, put forward by motivational speaker Jim Rohn, highlights how our social environment can significantly influence our beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives, including how we perceive our bodies.
Surrounding ourselves with positive influences, particularly those who embrace body positivity, can play an instrumental role in cultivating and maintaining body confidence. Conversely, eliminating negative influences from our lives, both in our physical surroundings and digital spaces like social media, can safeguard our self-esteem and body image.
Let’s explore the power of positive social influence through the experience of Mia, a freelance artist. For years, Mia struggled with body confidence due to her non-traditional body type that didn’t align with societal beauty standards. Then she began engaging with a body-positive community in her city. She regularly spent time with members who celebrated body diversity and self-love. Through their influence, Mia adopted a more accepting attitude toward her body. She learned to appreciate its uniqueness and stopped comparing herself with others.
On the flip side, Mia also realized that her social media feeds were full of images promoting unrealistic beauty standards, often leaving her feeling inadequate and unhappy. She consciously unfollowed these accounts and instead followed body-positive influencers, mental health advocates, and artists who promoted self-love and acceptance. This digital detox contributed significantly to her journey towards body confidence.
The influence of our social environment on body confidence is supported by extensive research. A study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that girls who reported having friends who valued appearance had higher levels of body dissatisfaction. Conversely, individuals who reported having friends who valued fitness and health goals over appearance were more likely to have a positive body image.
But it’s not just about whom we surround ourselves with; it’s also about the messages we consume. A 2017 study published in Body Image suggested that people who followed more appearance-focused accounts on Instagram were more likely to struggle with body image concerns.
The journey to body confidence isn’t a journey to be taken alone. It can be shared with positive, supportive people who help us see the beauty in diversity, the strength in our bodies, and the worth in ourselves. It’s about being part of a community that uplifts, encourages, and emboldens.
It’s also about protecting our mental health and body image by being mindful of the influences we allow into our offline and online lives. Surrounding ourselves with positivity can significantly propel us along our body confidence journey.
Remember, body confidence isn’t a destination; it’s a journey of understanding, respecting, and loving our bodies for what they can do. It’s a journey with good days and less than ideal, and that’s perfectly okay.
How have the people and media in your life influenced your body confidence? What steps have you taken to surround yourself with positivity? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.