My Body keeps Score: Body Image and Mental Health

It seems like everyone in the Philippines is eagerly anticipating summer, as BINI's Pantropiko echoes through the air as the country experiences record-breaking heat. Being "nognog" and having the perfect "beach body" will be on everyone's mind again as summer approaches.

While it may not be immediately apparent, the majority of us had relatives that were overly concerned with our appearance from a young age. This includes things like weight gain or loss, as well as tanned or tanner skin. These persistent, and often unwarranted, remarks may cause us to feel constantly judged for our weight, food choices, and even skin tone. Involuntarily, we can all fall into the trap of making judgmental remarks about other people's bodies when no one is specifically asking us to do so. This can lead to a cycle of shame.

Salamin, salamin sa dingding, nasa’n na’ng pag-ibig? - Bini

Although Bini's Salamin isn't exactly a self-love song, this particular line really hit home for us! We think it's about time we consider: Nasa'n na ang pag-ibig sa sarili?


Lighter skin tone, rosy cheeks, and an hourglass body are just a few examples of the western beauty standards that a large number of Filipinos conform to. Interest in skincare and beauty has increased due to the growing popularity of social media. The result is that we dwell on what we have and what we lack.

As a result, it influences our ideas, feelings, and beliefs regarding our body. Psychology refers to this as Body Image, a mental representation of our body that encompasses its physical features. Our body image can be positive or negative. Positive body image stems from our satisfaction and acceptance, whereas negative body image stems from our desire for a different body and our dissatisfaction with it. If not addressed, our body image might lead to lowered self-confidence, anxiety, depression, and conditions such as Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorders.

Our body image also affects how we feel about our bodies. We hope you have a good relationship with yours, despite the pressures from society.

Adriene Mishler, a yogi, says to always "Find what Feels Good" on her blog and YouTube account. Would you like to go to the gym? Do you want to start lifting weights or running a marathon? Are you trying to eat less red meat? Yes, my friend! Do what you want as long as it makes you feel good and comfortable, no matter what other people say. But we also want to remind you to refrain from habits that are bad for you, like starving yourself, getting all the skincare products that everyone is talking about even if you can't afford them yet, and working out until you're too tired to move.

If you're unhappy about your appearance and think things like, "I'll definitely get a partner if I have toned muscles!" Or "Dapat palagi ako mag-exercise para tumigil na sa comments sila tita!" Take a break! Consider engaging in self-affirming behaviors and shifting your internal dialogue to be more positive. Here are a few suggestions you can try:

1. Digital detox - Take a break from your social media accounts if the things you see there make you feel uncomfortable and anxious.

2. Be mindful of how you feel when looking at influencers - One of the goals of social media influencers and famous people is to inspire others. If you've ever felt bad about yourself because of what you see on their posts, take a moment to try tip #1!

3. Set a good example - No matter if you're a parent, a friend, or a coworker, watch how you talk about your body and be aware of what you say to other people. 

Instead of saying, “Nakita mo si Ma’am S? Mukang stressed!!!” Try not to comment anymore. We don’t know what anyone is going through, so it is best to be kind. As Thumper from Bambi said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.

4. Find what works for you - A good way to get some movement into your day is to do routines that you enjoy, like strength training, yoga, walking, or even dancing early in the morning.

In the event that the way people talk about your body bothers you, you might want to address the issue with sincerity. It might be tempting to say, "Kayo rin po, tita, ang laki na!" You could say, "Tita/o, I don't like what you're saying about my body. What an interesting job I have! Would you like to talk about that instead?"

5. Talk to a trusted person or a professional - To get rid of stress and work through your feelings, it's best to talk to someone you trust or even a professional if you still don't feel good about your body.

There may be ups and downs in our relationship with our bodies, just like our bodies change with them. It is our hope that you feel happy, and celebrate what you see in  the mirror, as you dance to “Bawat araw, mas sumasaya, magmula nang nakita ka.”


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