“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu.

Posted by on August 20, 2012

Today, I am taking that step through writing out my thoughts on an issue that is sensitive and personal to me: body-image bullying. In the past, I was ashamed to discuss this subject but I soon realized that this is an important topic to share.  I have come to learn that if I don’t speak up, who will?     

Years ago, my second-year social psychology professor shared a case with our class that taught me to never rely on someone else to take action.  My professor was talking about the famous Kitty Genovese case that occurred during the early 1960’s.  In a populous U.S. neighbourhood one morning, Kitty was attacked on a street and left to die over a 45-minute period. Kitty’s death was heart-breaking for its needlessness: 38 people witnessed her attack, but none did anything to help her! Kitty’s story is not the only documented case of the Bystander Effect; there are many more where people didn’t do anything to help someone in extreme need; they thought another person was taking care of it.   John Darley and Bibb Latané have done fascinating studies on Bystander Apathy, looking at how people abdicate responsibility for helping those they see in distress. My psychology professor reinforced to our class that we should not act like such bystanders; instead, we should help others in need.  I took her advice to heart; since then, my motto has been to do too much, rather than not enough, to help others.  

Taken by me in Key West, Florida (c) Arianna’s Random Thoughts

As you may have noticed, there is a common element that runs throughout my blog, which is body-image bullying. In today’s society, many people and organizations are doing work in both body image and bullying; because of all this work, I could say, “Why should I help?  Others are already taking care of these issues.”  However, I’ve realized that while I can’t control how others act, I can control how I react to a situation.  Therefore, I am taking a stand and adding my voice to the public discussion on body image and bullying! Despite the efforts of many self-help books, seminars, and television shows focused on enhancing individuals’ self-esteem, many people still feel as if they “aren’t good enough.” That is why I am speaking out and sharing my personal journey with these issues.  I think it is really important to talk about body-image bullying; hence, I will focus my upcoming blog topics around it.

Throughout my life, I have struggled: comparing myself to images of women in the media and letting this comparison influence my behaviour, treatment of my body, and my attitude. I felt I didn’t measure up to the widespread notions of the “ideal” body shown in the media.  I was in a constant battle to not let these unrealistic images influence my view of myself. I felt like I should change myself and my imperfections to this standard “perfect” body-image in order to be happy and to be accepted by others.

You see, I’m a thinker, a sharer, and an educator; but, I’m also a doer. The idea to share my story about body-image issues on my blog occurred two years ago when I was on family vacation in the beautiful U.S. state of Hawaii. While relaxing on the beach, I looked around and saw everyone smiling, having fun, enjoying the surroundings, and at peace. Hawaii is a special place. I saw women and men from all over the world of many shapes and sizes. The one thing I realized while at the beach was that everybody was beautiful. They all had the positive energy which Hawaii’s culture fosters, and they were having fun. There was no focus on physical appearance. In these people’s eyes, every body was beautiful. Everyone was enjoying the environment and the community. Hence, I thought I should start a blog to inspire people to become healthier, more confident, and happier. The blog was also to reflect my personal stories which had influenced the way I feel today. 

On my blog, my intent is to share my experiences and stories, as well as the empirical research which supports them. We all live our own lives, making our experiences and the way we see our lives unique.  Yet, because we are all human, we all share fundamental life experiences.

I am here to share my story and the thoughts that go along with it.  I have been bullied by others and have been a bully to myself. I have wasted a lot of time – comparing myself to others and criticizing myself.  

Shift.  

I am channelling the energy that I spent on worrying about my body image issues into fostering a place where we can learn, heal, and grow from: Arianna’s Random Thoughts.   

Think of my blog as a place where you can go to get comfort if you’ve had a bad day. 

I remember a few years ago someone said a comment to me which hurt deeply.  I confided in a friend about it, who then texted me to meet at her place in a bit.  When I showed up, she surprised me with a cup of hot chocolate and an array of my favourite chocolates. She let me vent.  As I talked, my hurt became smaller. Such kindness and support are what I hope this site can be to you in your times of trial. 

Looking forward to starting the next step of the journey with you! 

I hope you will be along for the ride!

10 Responses to “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu.

  1. kindredspirit23

    Important! My site goes over this at times, but I hope that readers and others always know that I want people to be themselves and never have to feel bullied when writing on my post or whenever I am around them. I fought this for years and finally I have enough self-esteem that I can speak out and people don’t seem to say as much to me. My touchy point right now seems to be my cane and the image it automatically produces in a lot of people, including me, at times.
    Thanks,
    Scott

    • ariannasrandomthoughts

      So happy for you that you found this out and most important act on it. You are courageous and thanks for being a role model to many. I think trust also comes into the mix when it comes to sharing. Readers have to feel that they can trust you and it is a safe place to share their story. As for the personal battle, it is hard but it is so necessary to overcome. You learn a lot about your own strength along the way. I could see how that is a touchy point – but there is a story behind it. When people see the cane – they think negative but what if they switched and looked at what the person has overcome to get there? They are survivors. It is just because its an obvious difference that you show, we all have differences. When do you get the image in your head Scott? What makes you think that way? I challenge you if you get it – you should try switching immediately to something positive. Its hard – but that is my challenge to myself for the coming weeks (it will be in an upcoming post) – whenever I have a negative thought – get it out of your head. We can both encourage each other :)

  2. Tara Jacek

    Body image has always been a problem for me. I don’t blame the media or magazines for making me think that way because I wasn’t exposed to any of it until 7th or 8th grade but I remember those close to me making fun of my body at a young age and kids in kindergarden and first grade teasing me as well.

    I’m not someone with answers or advice on the subject because I still fight my inner battles but I do understand.

    • ariannasrandomthoughts

      Tara – thanks for opening up and sharing! You can provide your honest story and how it feels. Reacting to negative comments about your body happens to everyone (even if you are an expert). I’m in no way perfect – and as I’ve shown I still get hurt by some comments. I’m just aware to not let these comments control my behaviours. If you want someone to help you along the journey – you know I’m here for you! You are beautiful inside and out :)

  3. Jacqueline

    I’m so glad you’re speaking up about something so many people struggle with, Arianna! I’ve had my own inner battle with body image for several years, and it wasn’t until I turned 26, that I really made a decision to love my body for all it is (and isn’t). It was a long road, and it wasn’t easy.

    The biggest bully we often face, whether with body issues, self esteem, or other, is ourselves. That inner voice can often be our meanest critic, and I don’t think it was until a friend said to me, “Jackie, if you talked to me like you talk to yourself, I wouldn’t be your friend” that it really hit me how toxic my inner voice was.

    I’m grateful she spoke up and gave me a chance to recognize and more importantly, change that inner voice, even if it was a step-by-step process. I look forward to more of your writing on this subject and how you will inspire others in doing so! :)

    • ariannasrandomthoughts

      Thanks for the comment, Jacqueline! :) You rock. It is funny how sometimes it takes another person who knows us well to let us know what we are doing. I’ve always believed that if you “change your thoughts, you can change your life.” That is what I’m doing! I’m taking control – changing my negative thoughts into positive ones. We will see how one “small” change can make a whirlwhind of difference. So glad we can talk about this issue together and make a diffference. The world needs more positive people :)

  4. ls

    Your blog will help me make MY journey in life better! Thanks!

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