Author: Justin Mckibben
Body image is the way you feel and what you see when you look at your reflection, or what you image when picturing yourself in your mind. It is what you believe about your appearance, and not just about how you look but also how you feel in your own skin, and a lot of people who have struggled with other issues like eating disorders, drug abuse and other compulsions can relate to that sense of feeling out of place even in your own body. A negative body image is often a distortion of your perception. A lot of times it can be a feeling of failure, anxiety or being self-conscious, and typically it contributes to an obsession with dieting or exercise.
The National Eating Disorders Association has a slogan that states:
Be comfortable in your genes.
That is a tribute the fact that your body type has a lot to do with your genetics, and is not a personal failure but a biological signature. It puts the emphasis on the idea of taking comfort in our genetics to remind us of that fact.
When we look in the mirror, most of us focus more on what we don’t like. It’s almost easier to point out our shortcomings than to celebrate our beauty. We allow our feelings and our body image to be dictated by the expectations set in the media, which portrays the ideal body as the coveted actor/actress or supermodel, making it harder for us to appreciate a body that isn’t as “perfect”. The truth is NO body is prefect.
But just as we can be conditioned to expect something abstract and unattainable, we can also condition ourselves to value our bodies and construct a better body image. Here are 5 steps to building a better body image.
- Give yourself some credit
One thing that’s very important is to actually allow yourself to admire the things you like about yourself. A gratitude list a great tool in life, especially for those in recovery. You can start by making a list of things you like about your body, and then every day say some of them to yourself when you wake up, like an affirmation. Try and change it up too, that way it doesn’t just become routine and you actually connect with what you’re saying. But this isn’t all a beauty pageant, so be sure that some of the things on that list aren’t related to your appearance, but instead highlight your worth as an individual.
- Stop comparing
At the end of the day, the reality is that nobody is perfect, and no body is perfect either. No matter who you are, there is always someone out there that might be stronger, faster, or thinner. Someone will always make us feel less than attractive or insecure. The funny part is, there is someone who makes them feel the same way, and it just might be you for a reason you never expected.
Constantly comparing ourselves to others makes us feel inadequate. That grass-is-always-greener mentality will never makes us truly happy with ourselves.
- Treat yourself
You shouldn’t punish yourself for your body image, instead you should treat yourself for all you do to take care of yourself. We are always our worst critics in life, especially when it comes to our bodies. You are probably much harder on yourself than anyone else, and letting go of that prejudice will make it easier.
Give yourself a break once in a while. Treat yourself, and try not to regret or feel guilty about the rewards you give yourself for healthy behaviors.
- Dress the part
They say dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Well, after coming into the office a half dozen times dressed as Batman it donned on me that being practical and comfortable wear more important than a cape and cowl.
Some people try to wear oversized clothes to hide their weight, but it often draws more attention to your size. The same can be said about clothes that are too tight. Dressing in something comfortable that works with your body type is much better.
Comfy NOT baggy…
Fitted NOT tight …
Some say when you look good, you feel better.
Body image always comes back to the mind and our perception. If the way we perceive ourselves is as a failure, and we describe ourselves in our minds with negative self-talk while we nitpick our bodies, we will remain trapped in the picture we are constantly painting of a negative self-image.
By believing in yourself, and turning the negative problem thinking into positive solution based thinking, you can overcome a lot more. Look at yourself and congratulate yourself on your progress. Tell yourself that anything you want to improve you can, and believe it. But also remind yourself that you will be beautiful either way.
Adjusting your mindset can change everything. Celebrating things for what they are instead of ridiculing them for what they are not won’t achieve anything for growth. For a better body image, you have to look past the surface and find a love inside for who you are on the outside.
When struggling with things like eating disorders, mental health or drug abuse it can seem nearly impossible to find the things you love about yourself, but it doesn’t mean those things aren’t there. Getting the right kind of help can open your eyes to the best parts of you that you forgot how to look for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135