This post will be about body image, what it is, and how to improve it.
If this topic bothers you, or you feel that it may trigger unwanted feelings/thoughts, please don’t read! I don’t ever want anyone to feel uncomfortable reading something. It will mostly be tips to improve body image, but I know some people are more sensitive than others! I’m sure you guys know your limits.
According to the media, women are all 6 feet tall and 100 pounds. Does this sound like you? Most likely not, but according to television, magazines, and social media you should be or else you aren’t considered beautiful. Now how does that make you feel? If you have developed a negative body image because you’ve figured out that you aren’t perfect, you’re in the same position as most of us!
Please understand that nobody is perfect! In a world where we’re all different, our uniqueness should be celebrated, yet most of us are bombarded daily with messages that we’re not good enough. After all the constant negativity, we start to believe it.
The foundation to achieving what you truly want out of life, and letting go of your worries, starts with building confidence in yourself and in your body. Learning to love yourself for what you are isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Building confidence isn’t a quick fix. It involves time, patience, and a lot of trial and error to finally accept who you are and the body that you have. This doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself, especially if your weight is compromising your health, but no matter what body you have, whether you need to get in shape or not, you can love it for everything that it already is.
So let’s back up for a second. What is body image?
Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses:
- What you believe about your own appearance (including your memories, assumptions, and generalizations).
- How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight.
- How you sense and control your body as you move. How you feel in your body, not just about your body.
Negative Body Image
- A distorted perception of your shape–you perceive parts of your body unlike they really are.
- You are convinced that only other people are attractive and that your body size or shape is a sign of personal failure.
- You feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.
- You feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.
Positive Body Image
- A clear, true perception of your shape–you see the various parts of your body as they really are.
- You celebrate and appreciate your natural body shape and you understand that a person’s physical appearance says very little about their character and value as a person.
- You feel proud and accepting of your unique body and refuse to spend an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food, weight, and calories.
- You feel comfortable and confident in your body.
Even if you consider yourself to have a positive body image, you may know someone who falls under the ‘Negative Body Image’ category. Next, I’ll give some tips to help improve body image to help you or a friend!
**Note: All these tips may not work for everyone!
1. Make an “I Like Myself Because…” List.
Start with 10 things that don’t refer to your body or appearance. I’ll do the exercise below as an example!
I Like Myself Because…
- I am really open-minded
- I am honest
- I am a hard worker
- I know when to be serious and when to have fun!
- I have good music taste
- I’m organized
- I like to help people
- I have a very special relationship with many fictional characters
- I’m athletic
- I have great list-making abilities!!!
See? It’s that simple! Just list little qualities, achievements, or things that you are good at. When you are comfortable enough, move on to the next step. Try to write 10 things that you like about your body/appearance. You can include your eyes, your nose, your cheekbones, your back dimples, your freckles, or even the shape of your nails because you find it easy to paint them. This step can be difficult for some people. It’s important to not frustrate yourself. Some people have a hard time making these lists because they feel like they are being self-centered or cocky. Others have trouble because they really can’t think of anything! I promise, you aren’t being self-centered. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking things about yourself and stating them. The problem is when you brag. Simply stating them isn’t bragging, no matter what the haters out there say.
2. Minimize Exposure to Media
The best way to not compare yourself to the women you see in magazines, TV, and online is to simply not view them. Though this may not be entirely possible, it can help to limit your exposure.
3. Look Closely at Nature
Lots of people find certain aspects of nature beautiful. Some people love flowers, some people love leafs, or trees. Find something that catches your eye. Is it perfect? Or does is have bumps and curves and irregular edges and blemishes? Chances are that what you picked up isn’t perfect, but we still find it beautiful and complex. Nature is beautiful even though it may not be perfect. Take this wisdom and apply it to yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are still beautiful.
4. Stop saying negative things about your own and other’s bodies and refuse to listen to negative body talk in general.
At some level, our brains don’t know the difference between something it hears, thinks, or says, research suggests. So telling your friend, “You need to lose five pounds” is essentially the same as you telling yourself, “I need to lose five pounds.” Same goes for things you hear other people say (or hear on TV or on the radio). Your brain takes that information in and thinks the message was directed to you. Some people can be more susceptible than others.
5. Admire Successful People
Sometimes we get too caught up in admiring people because they are slender and beautiful. This is not an issue, unless you are solely admiring them because they are slender and beautiful, and because they are “goals.” Take a step back and think about some people you admire because of their success, personality, or intelligence. Don’t focus on the outward appearance. Yes it’s possible to admire someone’s intelligence and think they are beautiful. I think most of us can agree that Emma Watson is a beautiful woman, but many girls admire her confidence, and intelligence. Really think about why you like the celebrities or successful individuals that you do.
6. No Negative Self-Talk!
This is a big one. Every time you say something negative about yourself, try saying something positive. I used to say 3 positive for every negative. You are your worst critic. Only you have the power to change that.
Eating healthy can help you feel better about your body! It can help you stop feeling guilty about the things you eat. Fill your body with nutrients and try to avoid processed man-made products. Sub that bag of chips for some baby carrots and ranch. Instead of a cookie, try an apple and caramel. You may find just a few changes can help boost your confidence! Unhealthy snacks are perfectly fine in moderation though. Every girl needs her chocolate every once in a while!
You either love it or hate it. Exercise isn’t just for weight loss. Exercise can help your body and mind! Here’s a few ideas:
- Weight Lifting
- Jump Rope
- Any Sport really!
- Walking (nature walks are relaxing and fun with friends or family!)
There are so many things you can do! I’m sure you can find a ton on google, those were the ones on my mind! If you aren’t a fan of exercise, or just never really got into sports, you aren’t alone! I have been involved in sports my whole life, so personally I love to exercise! I have many friends who wanted to work out, but were never motivated. What helped them was small goals. Here’s an example: One of my friends wanted to start running. Me being a runner, wanted to help her of course! She was really intimidated by me because I always talked about 10 mile trail runs on Wednesday’s and just really intense workouts in general. I told her to run with me and that we would run for 10 minutes and then walk for 5. She seemed a bit hesitant at first, thinking I’d take off. I kept a slow and steady speed and she made it for 10 minutes! She was really happy that she ran the whole time, and we just kept gradually raising the amount of time to run. Exercise can be so much more fun with a buddy who will support you! No matter what you decide to do, try to stick to it! If you really hate it, don’t force yourself, but the first few days are always the most difficult. Being sore and tired is common when you do something new in exercise! Remember, results take time. You won’t have a six pack after doing 100 sit-ups one day. Patience is important. Sure we’d all like to run a marathon with no problems, but it takes small goals leading up to that.
Exercise benefits your overall health, which can help your body image!
**Note: Since I started talking about running I got excited… Skip this paragraph if you don’t care about running. So if you decide you want to start running, try a running/walking combination until you get your endurance up! Try running as long as you can (which may mean you get pretty uncomfortable) and then walk for a few minutes. Also, remember running slow and longer is better than really fast for 30 seconds. (Unless you are training to be a sprinter). Running is extremely mental, so if you think you cant go on any longer, try just 10-15 more seconds!
9. Treat Yourself!
Relax. You and your body both deserve a break sometimes! Take a bath, get a massage, get a manicure, or try out a new lotion. Treat your body with respect and it will return the favor 🙂
Hopefully these tips may be beneficial to you or someone you know! Let me know if you have any ideas or stories to share!
Are there any tips you might try?
Feel free to email me questions/requests/topics for the next ‘Girl Talk!’ I would really appreciate hearing from you guys! Also feel free to comment below!