“New Year, New Me”- it’s a phrase we hear thrown around every year around this time. With social media providing people with an outlet to discuss their new year goals, we are constantly encouraged to somehow reinvent ourselves as soon as the clock strikes 12. But this obsession with becoming a ‘better version’ of ourselves every January can actually cause more stress than it’s worth. Thinking you need to change some part of yourself is not always healthy. The issue I have with the ‘New year, New Me’ narrative is that it is all too often centered on changing your body; ‘New Year, New Me’ doesn’t have to mean ‘New Year, New Body’.
2020 has been a stressful year and we are still trying to navigate this new world we live in. But, one thing that won’t change is the annual onslaught of New Year’s diets being promoted at every opportunity. Post-Christmas detoxes and exercise regimes are excessively plastered over social media. We are forced to feel guilty about what we have eaten over Christmas, causing us to think we have to lose the ‘holiday weight’ as soon as possible. This is not healthy and can be incredibly triggering for anyone who suffers from body image issues or eating disorders.
We live in a diet-obsessed world which is really difficult to escape. Companies profit from leading people to believe that they need to lose weight in order to be happy. During January, diet and detoxing companies will massively increase their promotion. More influencers will be ‘using’ detox teas and doing juice cleanses – telling you to do the same. It is really hard not to get swept up in this, but it is all a marketing ploy based on profiting from our insecurities. These companies don’t care about your health or happiness, they care about the money they can make from your self doubt.
The dangers of crash dieting
Every year we see crash diets and detoxes promoted all over social media, but they actually do more harm than good. They can be incredibly dangerous, both mentally and physically. They are capable of:
- Weakening your immune system
- Causing low energy levels
- Negatively impacting your sleep, concentration, and mood
- Truly damaging your metabolism, making it worse than when you started
Constantly thinking about what you’re eating and how much you have exercised can be mentally draining. You shouldn’t sacrifice your mental health in your pursuit of the ‘perfect body.’ If you do want to lose or gain weight this year, do it slowly and with informed guidance from professionals.
Some body positive resolutions
‘Lose weight’ is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. But this year, why not try and focus on body positive resolutions that take the focus away from weight loss? Here are some suggestions:
Work on accepting your body and embracing your flaws. This is a lot easier said than done. A great way to start is by writing a list of things that you like about your body and reading it when you’re having a bad day. Practicing body positive affirmations is another great method to start using to accept your body the way it is.
Reflect on what your body does for you day to day and learn to appreciate it. Try to value your body for what it does for you, rather than what it looks like.
Unfollow triggering accounts on social media
Instagram is full of people promoting unrealistic beauty standards. Think about unfollowing the people who make you feel insecure and instead follow some body-positive accounts. Some great examples include @bodyimagepositive, @i_weigh, and @mikzazon. When you control what you see on social media, it can actually be used for good.
Focus on how you feel, rather than how you look
If you do want to make some changes to your diet and exercise habits, that is a perfectly valid choice too. However, try to think about those changes in terms of how they will impact you mentally. Eating nourishing and balanced foods and regular exercise does have positive effects on our mental health. So, instead of focusing on losing weight and how you look, focus on how these changes could make you feel.
This time of year is full of pressure to change ourselves and meet unrealistic patriarchal beauty standards. This is just a reminder that you don’t have to change who you are or what you look like, just because we are entering a new year. Your worth doesn’t come from the number on the scales or whether you fit into those jeans. You are so much more than that.