Body image is a very fleeting thing, mainly because how we feel about ourselves changes day-to-day. However, it really depends on the kind of person you are. Some people are lucky and have a really good image of themselves, but for others not so much. In reality, all of us have good days and bad days with our bodies. But, some of us have a slightly tougher time trying to accept what we are born with.
This is where mental health is very important and if you are struggling do not hesitate to reach out and seek support.
Your body is incredible, despite your feelings towards it. It does so much for you, every day of every minute. Yet, somehow, you find yourself fixating over minuscule imperfections in the mirror. Naturally, you want to find every way possible to try and ‘fix’ whatever isn’t perfect immediately. It’s not really your fault, since society has put so many ridiculous beauty standards in place making it rather difficult to accept what you’ve got. But no matter how much you stress over these imperfections, at some point you’ll have to come to a place of acceptance. There’s nothing more mentally exhausting than obsessing over how you look.
Learning to love yourself is a journey and even if it takes your whole life – it’s one worth embarking on. Establishing a healthy body image will change your life. The stress and unhappiness that fretting over your body causes, is just not worth it. I’ve had days where I didn’t even want to be seen by anybody or talk to anyone because I was feeling crappy about my body.
If you’re lucky enough to have been born with natural confidence and self-love then count your lucky stars. If you’re not, then don’t lose hope because it can and it does get better with a lot of conscious effort and work. Having said that, if you find yourself struggling to cope with your daily life because of a negative body image, then I do advise you to seek professional help.
Here are a few tools that I use to help you along your journey to self-love, confidence and appreciation.
Body Image Is All About Self-Talk
What are you saying to yourself every day when you wake up? Think about it and see if you can stop the bully inside. I believe there is truth in the phrase, ‘you are your thoughts.’
Interestingly, the Eating Disorders Organisation, states that people who are more accepting of their bodies are more likely to keep weight off. Sadly, about 45 percent of women and 23 percent of men within a healthy weight range think they are overweight. Whilst at least 20 percent of women who are underweight think they are overweight. This just proves the warped nature of our body image.
Body and Soul says the latest Mission Australia Youth Survey asked more than 45,000 young people to list their top three personal concerns. They listed studies, stress, and body image as their top personal concerns. Just over 33 percent of people listed body image as a concern.
So it seems that the belief: “I’m not good enough, because I’m not a certain size,” is extremely common.
Raise Your Hand, If…
You have ever done any of the following:
- Pinched your stomach for fat
- Looked for cellulite somewhere on your body
- Hated your body type
- Looked at magazines and felt inadequate about yourself
- Went on a diet in the last 3 months
- Been envious of your thinner friends
- Compared yourself to someone else
According to LifeHack, if you answered yes to any of these then know you’re not alone. All of us have looked in the mirror and seen something we don’t like on our bodies. This just leads us down a negative body image spiral. In fact, body dissatisfaction is at an all time high today, with millions of people struggling with eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder.
So body image is not just about having a good or a bad day; it is a real life problem.
What’s worse is you probably already know that you shouldn’t worry so much about the external. However, it keeps happening and you don’t know how to fix the problem. You try to tell yourself not to worry about your appearance, to be happy with who you are, and to stop comparing yourself to others. Yet, you still listen to your negative internal monologues. Why? Because you have no concrete tools to break out of your self-critical mentality. It’s a big fat mess and I totally understand how you feel.
When this spiral starts spiraling out of control for me, I start asking myself this one question. How is beating myself up and constantly nit-picking at my body going to help me get what I want out of life? It won’t. In fact, it can cause feelings ranging from mild discontentment to severe depression, says LifeHack.
How Do You Solve The Problem?
You need to make a decision. You are probably beyond tired of tearing yourself apart. Therefore, if you want to embrace your intrinsic worth and learn to actually start loving your body, here are some next steps to consider:
Appreciate And Acknowledge Your Body
Get to know your body through and through, remember skin moves and it’s beautiful. Stop trying to avoid looking at yourself in the mirror or photographs. This is the quickest way to feeding a negative body image. Stopping the avoidance is the only way to break this cycle.
Start approaching mirrors or photographs and look at yourself as a whole person, not just the bits you don’t like. It’s also beneficial to spend more time naked. Walk around the house nude. Practice touching your body. A good way to do this is to buy some nice moisturizer and rub it all over. Get creative and try out new activities that you wouldn’t normally do like going to the beach, clothes shopping, or dancing. The more you connect with and accept your body the way that it is, the more you are likely to develop a better body image.
It won’t be easy at first, but with practice, it gets easier.
Stop ‘Fat’ Checking
Okay, so you might have the opposite issue to what was mentioned above. Certain people, (I’m guilty of this one!) will constantly check up on their bodies. Ironically, this also perpetuates a negative body image. They do this instead of avoiding their body, which allows them to repeatedly check their bodies for evidence of continuing “disgustingness.” Some might even study their body in the mirror for hours at a time, or pinch their sides to check on the “fat”.
If you do this then try writing down a list of your “checking” behaviors. Once you have recognized what you are doing, make a point of refusing to check, or try to cut down. If you have “pinch the fat on my stomach” on your list, and you notice you are doing this 20 times a day, aim to cut down to 15 times, then 10, then five … then stop!
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Comparison is another form of ‘body checking.’ This is when you constantly compare your physical attributes to those of other people. Comparisons are toxic which is why you need to stop. It can be challenging to stop negatively comparing yourself to others. For many people, it’s an automatic habit and happens hundreds of times a day. Try to notice when you compare yourself to others. Now, make a note of when you compare, who you compare yourself to, and what you say to yourself when it happens. Is it fair? Is it realistic? What effect does it have on how you feel about yourself? What can you say that may be more helpful?
Remember Your Are Human
There are certain things that appear as imperfections on our bodies to our eyes when in actual fact they’re 100% normal. For example, people sometimes interpret normal, everyday things as evidence of their “fatness.” Many women think that if their thighs or stomachs wobble, this means they are “fat”. This contributes massively to a negative body image.
It’s madness because wobbliness is a normal female characteristic. We’re made to have moving bits. Then for other women, normal fluid retention that happens when they are premenstrual is often viewed as a “sign” that they are putting on weight. This just simply isn’t true. Try to notice what you are assuming to be evidence of “fat”, and look for the facts. This may mean doing a Google search, discussing your assumptions with friends and family, or even asking your GP.
Separate Feeling Bad From Feeling Fat
I’d say that out of all of these, this one is my weakest point. Sometimes, when you’re not feeling right, tired or emotional, you take it out on the way you look. This is one I’ve had to really try and unpack to figure out why I’ve got a tendency to do this.
When you have weight or body-image issues, it can be hard to separate feelings from how you feel about your body. For example, if you have a stressful day at work, a fight with your partner, and get a parking ticket, you start to feel bad. You may then start to also feel “fat” and unattractive.
If you start to feel this way, ask yourself: what is triggering this feeling? Try to identify the real issue, and separate it from your body-image issues. Another common experience is for people to feel “fat” after they have eaten. In this instance the trigger is body-image-related. When this happens, remind yourself that your weight and appearance were the same before this feeling hit. So, though you may feel different, your weight hasn’t changed.
Practice Self Acceptance
A negative body image feels as if you’ve got an evil inner critic inside your head 24/7. The critic is a harsh, derogatory narrative that makes nasty comments about you. It’s often non-stop and very exhausting. For example, “I look disgusting in this outfit” or “I can’t believe how fat I am”. The critic makes you feel awful because you believe it. Since you feel terrible about yourself, you look for ways to feel better.
You may eat something, which gives momentary pleasure, but minutes later the critic is back to comment on how much of a pig you are for eating. The big key to changing negative body image is to kill the critic and learn self-acceptance. This means accepting yourself as you are. Cognitive techniques are very effective in helping identify and change critical thinking. It can take time, but it’s totally worth it!
Never allow your inner critic to take over who you are, beautiful. Kill the inner critic and start embracing your uniqueness to experience a joyful life. Feel free to reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me @skyezee_fashionfit on Instagram. We can always set up a chat!
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