Body image and self-esteem issues are known to be causes of depression amongst young people. This is made worse by the pressure of consumerism and a desire to own the latest fashion pieces. Lala is a plus-size model and body-positive activist. In this article, she illuminates some issues associated with the pressures of the fashion industry.
By Lala Tshabalala
The fashion industry puts pressure on people’s mental health by constantly selling this idea that we are not good enough. Between all the body standards, beauty standards, and body trends, no one can keep up. Even the people that we are being convinced to look like don’t really look that way. After Photoshop and all those filters, what we see is just someone’s imagination.
I relate to this syndrome of wanting to fit in because while growing up, my self-esteem problem was always related to body image. I was the chubby girl in primary school with big breasts and a big butt amongst predominantly white children who didn’t look like that. I had a complex about my body for the longest time. I was also friends with the “popular girls” who looked ‘ideal’ by societal standards and I just didn’t fit in. Besides the pressure from school, the media added to those insecurities. At the time even the “it girls” looked the same, – “Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, The Spice Girls. etc.
I quickly realized that I needed to overcome the feeling of not being enough and I did that by choosing to surround myself with positive people who were all about positive vibes. I had no energy left for all that negativity and body shaming.
I focused on and followed brands, publications/pages that were size and beauty inclusive. This meant that any brands, pages/publications that I couldn’t relate to, that didn’t speak to my reality, my truth and were not inclusive, I unfollowed.
“Seek help”, that’s what I say to people suffering from eating disorders and depression. There’s no shame in saying “you know what guys, I’m just not coping. I need help.” At some point in life, we all need help. The most important thing is to remember and understand that you’re not alone.
To add to the pressure of having the ideal body, many people end up living far beyond their means trying to follow fashion trends. They take clothes that they can’t afford on credit and before they can even pay that off, there’s a new trend out that they will want to also follow. This is how depression and anxiety becomes a reality because they so badly want to fit in and be considered a part of the “cool kids.”
If you desire to avoid the pressure trap of keeping up with the Joneses, I will advise you to be true to yourself. Buy something because you sincerely like it, not because your favorite magazine/celebrity has told you it’s poppin’. Be still and live in your truth. Stop focusing on the Joneses and focus on yourself, your happiness, your goals, your growth. The most important thing – unsubscribe to beauty and body standards and redefine them. Beauty is whatever YOU think it is but whatever happens, make sure you are included in your new definition.
There are so many blessings in living in your truth. From the moment I started my body-love journey, focused on self-love, personal growth and following my dreams, my life has changed. I’m happier. I’m more successful. Things that I didn’t believe were possible for me are happening to me. I went from being absolutely ashamed of my body to be a working model, shooting campaigns for local and international brands, walking runway shows and inspiring other women too. I’m blessed and you can be too!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read more articles.