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Ideal Self and Real Self

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Bullying-Body Shaming Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

In psychology, ideal and real self are terms denoted to personality domains. The real self is ‘who I am and the ideal self is ‘who I want to be’. More often self-concept which is our feelings and thoughts draws a bridge between the real and ideal self. As women, we are constantly exposed to ideal forms of beauty, behavior, and being. The age of social media has dual effects of allowing us either to alleviate or aggravate our body image comorbid beauty standards and self-acceptance

Conversations around body shaming, bullying, self-love, and beauty standards are essential. While talking to women from different backgrounds and across all ages these issues have been pertinent at some stage in their lives.

To share your story takes a tremendous amount of courage and addressing problematic aspects of the experience, even more. At Humanising Lives we conducted live sessions with aspirational and talented women who despite facing the oddities willingly and open-heartedly shared their narratives for awareness around the journey of self-love and self-acceptance through body positivity.

“I wish I had got jaundice earlier, I would have lost so much weight.”

Beauty is a construct of society and this construct should not determine one’s confidence or self-worth. To reach here somehow we have to deconstruct all our social conditioning since childhood and to undo such thought process is not an easy task. It takes a tremendous amount of questioning, reflection, and realization to shed away toxic expectations and living our own reality on our own terms.

Shaivi Soni currently pursuing her Masters in Global Studies from Ambedkar University shared the innermost turmoil she faced around body image and bullying. As child expectations revolved around her weight be it when she was skinny or when she was fat. The transition period was fuelled by comments on her skin, facial features such as eyebrows constantly making her believe that something was wrong with the way she looked. As a result, she developed a sense of retaliation by being tom-boyish, using the sense of humor as a façade and at times being mean too.

Dancing was a way she chose to express herself but due to lack of representation of body type and confidence issues soon her interest faded away. Creativity was her escape to negate her physical insecurities. Perfecting photography, writing, or art not being labeled on the basis of her body. Before her graduation, she went through jaundice and was thankful that she lost a few kilos and she would look more attractive in a sari for her farewell party despite being bedridden for two weeks barely being able to study. In retrospection, this was such problematic thinking she actively engaged in.

Introspect, if thoughts regarding self-hate persist, question where it comes from. Is it your own hate or somebody else told you to hate yourself?

Despite the situations, she discovered herself through her support system and academics. There were people who had complete faith in her and tried to shift the focus from the ‘perceived’ to the ‘real’ beauty an individual holds. It’s not the physicality of the body that highlights who the person is, it really is how much more you do in terms of changing your life and others’ which defines you. Numbers on a weighing scale are a poor measure to value a person’s entire existence.

It is important to have people who acknowledge your vices and virtues, appreciate and loves you while doing so. Your company makes you who you are, choose them wisely. It is essential to learn, unlearn and relearn from and through your experiences. To and fro movement from self-love to self-esteem is a journey; there will be good and bad days and to not be hesitant to seek help is discovering your true beauty and potential. Do not accept defeat, it takes a long time to establish a positive relationship with oneself, take as much time as you need.

“Before I marry anyone else, I need to marry myself.”

Sahiba is a marketing professional and is currently studying in the UK. Along with her professional goals, she actively talks about ‘self-care and positive mindset and body’. The first incident of not being accepted came when Sahiba Singh was two months old. Later with age, the insecurities magnified further when people commented on her color and size, addressed her as a ‘maid’, called her too dark to find a guy, too fat to get clothes. It took her twenty years to finally understand it is not her but the people who are seeing things incorrectly.

It is not one’s body size or color or what they do that defines them, it is loving oneself as they are. To set a relationship with oneself wherein you pursue what you love, which you are passionate about, and which is not influenced by others’ validation is what defines a person.

Self-work is an on-going process and not a time-bound one. To find joy in the simplest of achievements such as cooking a meal for yourself, doing a chore you never did, celebrating these little achievements lead to eventual larger personality transformation. We should set a loving relationship with ourselves, be prudent and critical whilst being tender rectifying, and learning from mistakes.

Often we tend to lose ourselves when we face rejection or abandonment be it from a professional or personal area. Overthinking and self-criticism become the devil’s advocate in the crisis. There is no good way of facing a rejection we tend to go down the spiral of being unworthy to continue the particular thing we faced the setback for. Here we need to remind ourselves to not be scared of the judgments people push on us, to defend yourself, and balance personal and professional self-love.

Self-acceptance and control over emotions are essential it takes some time but the more we practice, the better we become at handling such situations. Stressors can be in any form but to manage the anxiety is what the real work is. Acceptance revolves around it, to accept the mistakes, to balance the anxiety be it journaling, dancing, meditating but to acknowledge the problem is only when the solution occurs.

Comments by others can affect and hurt us a lot while growing up, it humiliates and induces a sense of shame and guilt triggering our self-worth. However, we need to understand to set boundaries even with our families whilst understanding that their advice comes from a good place, it is essential to talk about soft points, triggers, and other issues. The freedom of speech and expression begins within the family and to set that environment requires patience and understanding.

When one is doubting themselves, Sahiba suggests walking to a mirror, see yourself, do you see a happy human? If you don’t, then take some action. The mirror never lies. Take small steps and while you may fall out in between the self-work and self-acceptance process will progress and JUST DO IT. Take the risk to do what your heart truly wants and be good enough for yourself. Start dating yourself, set your goals and you are good to go!

Conversations like these open up a lot of hidden truths of self-discovery. To be brave to face struggles, to not let society dictate your life, to defy rules when they are trying to break you, to address how bullying, body shaming affects your mental health requires courage. The alignment between your real and ideal self should be determined by your own standards, dreams and goals and your seal of approval and validation before anyone else’. Stories when shared becomes safe spaces for people to find relief in that there are people going through the same struggles as they are and we are thankful to Shaivi and Sahiba to share their journeys to self-love and acceptance with us.

  • Written by :- Bhagya Babu

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