Mohammed’s story: watching my body change with age
Body image can have a big impact on the way we feel about ourselves and has been very important to me in different ways.
My perception of myself as I age
I have always found it important to stay healthy and fit, and this has continued as I’ve got older. As a man now in his 60s, I have seen things change over the years! I can see my body changing and I want to try to keep looking and feeling the best I can.
People’s perceptions of you as you age
The way you change with age affects people’s perceptions of you and this can have an impact on how you feel about yourself.
I’ve loved football from a really young age, and I started playing in teams when I was at primary school. The sport has been a part of my life for so long and I continue to love it.
Changing other people’s perceptions of me as I age
I’ve witnessed other people’s perceptions about me taking part at my age. I still play 5-a-side and when I come onto the pitch, I can see them saying “What? Why is a guy this age coming onto the pitch?” But then at the end of the game, they often come over to me and say “Well done, you were amazing” and it’s great to be able to show them that my body and I can still be part of it, even though I’m in my 60s.
Invisible physical changes and how it makes me feel
It’s not just how you look, but those small almost invisible changes that your body starts to make as you get older that can make you feel low. Small things like cramps, shooting pains – things other people can’t see but can have a big impact.
I had to have an operation when a bone in my foot started to grow and cause me pain. I felt so worried that I would never be able to play football again – thankfully an operation has really helped, but at the time I felt really stressed about the impact on my life.
My ethnicity and how I feel about how I look
Being a man of ethnicity has an impact on how you feel about yourself. It also impacts how society and people within your culture expect you to look and behave. The first thing everyone sees and has ever seen is the colour of my skin and I’ve always been aware that I’m different than most people around me.
The pressure to represent my culture in a certain way
There’s a huge pressure to be and act in a certain way to ensure I am ‘representing’ others within my culture in a positive way. This can lead to a huge amount of stress and anxiety. There’s also pressure within my culture to be more family oriented, which has meant that taking part in sports is really frowned upon, as it takes up that time. There is a battle with wanting to look after myself and feel fit and healthy whilst knowing that sport is not at all favoured within my community.
Talking about feelings and mental health being taboo
Within my culture, talking about our feelings is still not encouraged and mental health is very much a taboo subject. So, we put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to look and feel a certain way and find that it’s not okay to share if it’s all getting to much, and this can have a detrimental impact.
Practical tips to improve how you think and feel about your body
- Find the best way that works for you to stay active.