Ten Steps to a Positive Body Image
Posted by Katie Ostoich on May 15, 2012 at 8:51 PM
It seems I really struck a nerve yesterday when I brought up weight stereotyping. I guess that dealing with body image, both our own and others’, is a big deal. I know it is for me. I’ll go personal here for a minute: I struggle with this pretty much constantly. My inner monologue is relentless. “Does anyone notice I gained 2 pounds?” “Ugh, look at my arms in that picture.” “How do I look standing next to her? Better suck it in.” All day long. And I don’t know why. I’m not thin by any means, but nor am I really overweight. And here’s the kicker: Nor does it really matter!!! I run all the time. I eat healthy foods (but also love cookies). I have close friends and family and a good relationship with my husband. I have a career that I love. So why the insecurity? Do you feel the same way?
Well, at least we know we’re not alone right? Even a freaking Olympic gold medalist feels like she has to lose weight because of “fat talk.” That is some sick sh*t right there ladies. Shawn Johnson said: "I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image. I doubted what I looked like. That's sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that."
Well, it’s probably too late for us to be re-taught, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it. I know that reading these ten steps can’t automatically start putting good thoughts in your head. Fat talk is really hard to get rid of. It takes conscious and constant work to make it happen. But this list can help you think about new ways of looking more healthfully and happily at yourself and your body. The more you do that, the more likely you are to feel good about who you are and the body you naturally have.
1. Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you --running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
2. Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself -- things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about you.
3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
4. Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you -- as a whole person.
5. Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it. I have this one dress that never fails to make me feel amazing. I always put it on when I need a pick-me-up.
8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message.
9. Do something nice for yourself -- something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
Well, there you have it. I’d like to say follow these 10 easy steps and you’ll be happy all the time, but you’d know I was making false claims. They’re not easy. But it’s important to take on these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones instead. I know I’m starting to makeover my mind and eliminate the fat talk right now. Will you?