Chris Stark: There's more to life than looks
This article was first published in March 2020.
Chris Stark is a Radio 1 DJ, BBC podcast co-host, and friend to rock gods and film stars alike. He may be living the dream, but being surrounded by “the sexiest people on the planet” every day can take its toll.
From worrying about his hair when he was younger to comparing himself to beach bods on his hols, Chris talks to us about his thoughts on body image, fitting in, and the importance of just being yourself.
Everyone is different, but in a weird kind of way, everyone is just trying to be the same to get by.
So, to summarise what Chris has said:
Comparing yourself to others, especially if you feel like you constantly lose out, can make you feel really critical of yourself and can take you to a dark place. Chris accepts that “you can’t avoid the pressure to look a certain way - it’s everywhere”, but you can be aware of the impact comparing yourself to others can have.
Linked to this, try to treat yourself more kindly. You often wouldn't say the things you say to yourself to others, so keep your self-talk focused on the positives.
Everyone has something about themselves that they don’t like. As Chris puts it, “There’s an imperfection that everyone finds in themselves”. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in feeling bad about yourself sometimes. Just don’t let your perceived imperfections be the only thing you see. The pressure usually comes from within, so make sure you focus on strengths and get to know the things you like about yourself.
Looking ‘good’ and being healthy are NOT the same thing, Chris warns us. Working on your six-pack and going to the gym every day is great as long as you want to do it, and you’re trying to become fit and healthy. It’s not about looking good above being happy: “fitness is only good if you feel better; it shouldn’t make you feel worse”.
How you look isn’t who you are. You can change your appearance – buy new clothes, get a new haircut – but who you are inside will be the same. As Chris says, “your mates are not your mates because of how you look!” It’s what’s inside and the vibe that you give out that matters: “Give out a bit of positive energy about yourself and people will want to be part of that.”
Be yourself. It’s taken Chris a while to get there, but he now realises that it’s our differences that make us stand out. As he points out, “That little bit that makes you stand out is the bit that someone’s looking for.” It can take time and courage to accept who you are, and to be happy with that, but “The second that you just start enjoying who you are, and what you’re about, you can get on with life.”
It is OK to just be you.
If you need support
You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.
If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.