5 ways to improve your body image
It’s only within the last couple of years that I truly started feeling at home in my body. Living in a society that idolizes thinness and disordered eating makes accepting your natural body size a challenging task. We are told thinness equates to living an extravagant life, and that getting to a certain weight is key to happiness. Along with being told to be thin, we are constantly bombarded with pictures in the media portraying what “desirable” and worthy looks like-when in reality these bodies do not represent real people. Most the time, the person in the picture doesn't even look that way in real life. Like Kendrick Lamar says, “I’m so f***ng sick and tired of the photoshop!”
What I’ve discovered through my own journey to body acceptance is that losing weight and becoming smaller in fact DOES NOT improve body image. Poor body image is a deeper issue than what you look like. It’s a manifestation of an internal struggle such as poor self esteem or trauma. It’s taking a bad day out on your physical appearance when it’s hard to sit with being uncomfortable. It’s moving through the world being objectified and hyper-aware of what your body portrays on the outside.
Body image is something that can be improved with a ton of self compassion and concrete strategies. Let's dive into 5 ways to start improving your body image today:
Throw away the scale
Smash it, toss in the garbage! Or baby steps, hide it at the back of your closet. If you are weighing yourself daily and these still feel like a big steps, try cutting back to once a week and reflect on how you feel after. Weighing yourself and letting that decide if you have a good day or bad day can be detrimental to your mental health. Weight does not define health or your worth-plus our bodies are constantly fluctuating in weight. You can trust your body to find what weight is best for you.
Stop body checking
Do you body check? This can be walking past a store window and looking at your body in the reflection, or standing in front of a mirror and lifting up your shirt, pinching parts of your body, and judging yourself. Spending time body checking leads to dissatisfaction in how you feel about your appearance and your body. If body checking is something you do frequently, try keeping track of how many times you do this per day and gradually cut down on the amount of times you are checking.
Wear clothes you feel comfortable in
It can be hard to grow out of clothes that we love, and sometimes we get into the mindset that *maybe* we can squeeze back in them one day. Trying on clothes that don’t fit will send you into a negative body image spiral. The truth is, our bodies are not meant to stay the same size. Weight and body size fluctuates through different stages of life and looks different for everyone. You deserve to wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel confident. Consider doing some spring cleaning and get rid of clothes that are no longer serving you-this can feel quite liberating.
Positive affirmations that have nothing to do with shrinking your body size
Coming up with positive affirmations based on your values can be an excellent tool to improve self esteem, which in turn can help improve body image. Here are a few that I really like(some I found here ):
“I am compassionate and care deeply for people. This comes from my heart and soul, not my body size.”
“20 years from now, I want to look back on my life and cherish memories which do not include spending all my time thinking about my body.”
“A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.”
“My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.
Learn to embrace discomfort
Working on improving body image is hard and uncomfortable. It’s not talked about nearly enough in our culture, but is so prevalent. Learning to sit with the discomfort of embracing what is causing poor body image is a critical part of healing. If this is something that's hard to do alone, working with a therapist and anon diet dietitian is a great option.
I want you to know that improving body image doesn’t mean loving yourself all the time. It means respecting and honoring your body, and giving yourself a ton of self compassion. And the path to improving your body image is not linear; it's actually really messy and complex. We all live in diet culture where thinness is always shoved down our throat, and we all have bad days. But you deserve to live a fulfilling life free from intrusive thoughts about your body-you are good enough as you are.