The perfect body shape has changed over the years. In the last few decades, the "ideal body" has been skinny. Times are changing and nowadays, there are many proclaiming that strong is the new sexy for women.

While this is great, pictures are still airbrushed and it still leaves out the majority of women. Almost everywhere you look, there are still flawless bodies, no stretch marks, no cellulite, no scars, with very little body fat.

Fat-shaming, judging people by what they wear, and thinking of cellulite and stretch marks as ugly doesn’t help. Women in their 20's are even getting procedures done to keep those fine lines and wrinkles at bay.

When summer hits, some of us still walk around in trousers and long-sleeved tops with makeup melting off our faces to look "acceptable". No one is saying don't dress in a way that makes you feel good or stop working out and eating healthily.

What we are saying is, we all at some point develop these so-called flaws. So why are we so ashamed? Today we're taking a look at real body image, what normal is, and the latest Instagram trends specifically throwing up a storm when it comes to the traditional confines of how we view body image.

1. A Few Facts About Our Bodies

  • 93% of women have cellulite and around 10% of men too.

  • Stretch marks often first appear in adolescence when girls start getting wider hips and breasts start developing and when boys go through sudden growth spurts. If not then, pregnancy and weight changes cause them.

  • Most women will never have that coveted thigh gap simply because their bone structure doesn't allow for it.

  • Only around 5% of women have the body type of a traditional model.

  • We all age, men and women. It's a fact of life. Along with it comes wrinkles and parts of our body moving in a southern direction.

  • Breasts can sag slightly or change shape during pregnancy.

  • Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. None of them are better or worse, and as you know, what matters is being healthy.

2. Problems Due to an Unhealthy Body Image

As you can see, these flaws are not really flaws at all. They are the norm. Those images in the magazine are photo-shopped. Many celebrities and models, and even some athletes in sports where weight is important go to extreme measures to look perfect and they still get photo-shopped.

This not only hurts those posing for the pictures but the general population too:

  • Around 90% of women are unhappy with their bodies.

  • In the US, 30 million people have an eating disorder. Less so in Australia, but it still exists.

  • The weight loss and anti-ageing market are worth billions.

  • More and more people are getting cosmetic procedures done.

  • Many women and even men are constantly on a diet and most women have tried a diet at least once.

3. Sex and Body Image

Sexual promiscuity and suicide are common among teens who have a negative body image. Many women beyond their teen years also seek out sex to get affirmation. Instead of helping, it just perpetuates the cycle.

On the flip side:

Studies indicate that body image has a definite impact on sexual function. Young adult and middle-aged women in particular often experience the following:

  • A lack of sexual desire

  • A lack of arousal

  • There may be an inability to orgasm

Sure stress and living a busy life can affect your sex life, but it's hard to feel sexy when you feel uncomfortable about your body.

Either way, a positive body image is far more important than any sexual encounter. When we feel comfortable with ourselves, we are more confident, we value ourselves and we expect the same from others. We have healthier relationships and healthier sex lives.

4. Body Image and Instagram Trends

More and more celebs are speaking out against being photo-shopped. While there are still those who put fake images on Instagram and of course, trolls are everywhere, here are some of our favourites who show that we are all beautiful:

1. @nude_nutritionist Nutrition meets realism, the healthy way!

2. @emilyskyfit A fit and fabulous mother - stretch marks, muscles, and all.

3. @denisbidot There is no wrong way to be a woman!

4. @healthyisthenewskinny A healthy body is beautiful, no matter the shape.

5. @missgeoburk With eating disorders in the fashion industry being rife, it's time for unattainable beauty standards to change.

6. @gabifresh Beautiful clothes should be made for women of all shapes and sizes.

Being beautiful should be about being healthy and feeling comfortable in your own skin, no matter what your body looks like. Nothing is as sexy as confidence.

Whatever your body looks like, treat it well. Eat healthily most of the time, exercise a few times a week, if not daily, and make time to enjoy life. The less we obsess about what's "wrong" with our bodies, the more we start to see how beautiful we really are.

Author: Cheanné Lombard

Author: Cheanné Lombard