The creation of Bear Body is particularly important to me as for many years my self confidence was connected to how I perceived I looked. Much of my male body image issues was the result of trauma connected with bullying, sexual trauma, or other childhood traumas.
I did things like not looking in the mirror until I was dressed, wearing clothes that I thought hid me, not go out, not go on a beach holiday, risky sexual behaviour. Finally, I considered would it be better if I was no longer around. I now understand that that I was suffering with my mental health and low self-esteem. That’s what led to my unhealthy and maladaptive behaviours.
There are many reasons why we find ourselves with a negative body self-image, much of which is heightened by the unrealistic expectations set by media and social media.
Male body positivity isn’t focused on by society nearly enough. The stigma around male body image issues often prevents men from speaking honestly about their experiences and seeking support and treatment for related mental health challenges.
So what changed for me?
It was nothing that happened overnight. There were no fad diets, no steroids, & no Prince Charming! The keys for me, were about:
a. Building confidence through activities that aren’t related to body image, such as volunteering, spending time in nature, and creative expression.
b. Being honest about my struggles with my male body image and finding safe places to talk about what I'm going through. (Bear Body is a great place to start doing this)
c. Looking at myself as a whole person, choose not to focus on specific body parts
At the Bear Body workshop, you’ll find that we
Ÿ Explore how we acknowledge our body’s uniqueness instead of ignoring or hiding it
Ÿ Discover how to appreciate our bodies. (It does wonderful things that most of us fail to notice)
Ÿ Discuss and reflect on the moments when we criticise ourselves and explore the impacts of that.
Ÿ Consider how we refrain from a binary approach to evaluating your own body (and others'); to have us be more flexible than 'attractive' or 'ugly', move away from labels and focus on ‘whole-person’ features.