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In this era of immersive popular culture, one of the more common tropes that arises in online social media communities is the idea of ‘body goals,’ and the total package that these two words entail.

One of the most important aspects of healthy body goals is focusing on what is intrinsically realistic while attaining your desired self-image. We all have different motivations for working out, whether vague or specific, but reasonable body goals, and having the right mentality to achieve them, is crucial to your health and wellness.

From a young age, targeted advertising campaigns and mass media insist that the ‘conventionally attractive’ body, with a thin waist or the ‘Dorito’ waist-to-shoulder ratio, is the gold standard for health, beauty, and desirability.

According to the American Communication Journal, there is a significant link between women’s body dissatisfaction and the media’s effect on body confidence and self-esteem. Peer pressure is also prevalent in conversations about body weight and the perception of one’s body image by others. Psychology of Men & Masculinity has also identified a connection between men’s self-image and media portrayals of the ideal male figure, especially in relation to musculature.

The media therefore plays a significant role in the trending self-image crisis, especially among young adults under 40. As desire for the idealized body type grows, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a condition in which either real or imagined physical flaws consume and take over an individual’s life, comes into increasing conflict with reasonable body goals. Social anxiety and depression, among others, often coincide with BDD.

Understanding BDD is crucial because for many people, body image is the reason why they start working out. When a person does not like the way they look or wants to get back to the way that they looked before, it is easy to fall into a pit of obsessive workouts and unhealthy routines to try and obtain the unattainable.

Instead, aim for a healthy lifestyle and work out in moderation. Though it is different for every individual, any body goal can be reasonable as long as you can maintain a healthy physical and mental lifestyle while reaching for it.

At the end of the day, make the change for yourself. You are the one living in your body, not the media, or anyone else who wants you to conform to their ideals.

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