Do you ever find yourself holding back from doing things because of how you feel about your body image?
You’ve avoided dating or networking events because you didn’t like the way you looked in your clothes? You avoid shopping in clothing stores because you won’t look like the women in the ads. You skip the pool/beach meetup because you are embarrassed by how you look in your bathing suit. You avoid getting those photos taken because you always hate the way you look in the images when you see them. Can you relate to any of this?
You aren’t alone. Studies show that 9 in every 10 women (that’s 91%!) are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. And sadly, only 5% of women actually possess the body shape that is often portrayed in media.
So what exactly IS body image?
According to a quick search on Google,
“Body Image is a combination of thoughts + feelings that you have about your body and how you assume that others perceive you. This image is often affected by family, friends, social pressure, and the media.”
What does a poor body image look like?
It’s constantly having negative thoughts about your body. It’s comparing yourself to other women. It’s internalizing comments about the way you look in a negative light. It’s not liking the reflection in the mirror or how you see yourself in photos. It’s avoiding trying on clothes for fear of how they will look on you. If you have a poor body image, you may find yourself constantly dieting, excessively working out, valuing appearance as a measure of self-worth, constantly talking negatively to yourself, and just flat out avoiding situations where body image may cause you anxiety. You most likely find yourself playing small a majority of the time.
Have you ever stopped to think about how much time you waste worrying about your appearance and fixing it versus taking action in your life + toward your dreams? If you can relate to the above statements + take time to reflect, you’ll probably realize that it’s A LOT of time!
What does a positive + confident body image look like?
It’s high self-esteem, self-acceptance, having a healthy outlook + behaviors. But you may be asking me, “Tami, I understand what it is, but how in the world do I create this for myself?” It all starts with your thoughts. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with what other people think of you. Have you ever noticed how two people can look at the same person and one may describe them as breathtakingly beautiful and the other person may be like, “Meh! They don’t do it for me!” So that just goes to show you that there is absolutely NO RULE BOOK on what can be defined as beautiful. Because we all have different opinions. And the definition will constantly be evolving over time. Just look at the fashion trends…it’s ever-evolving!
When you have a negative body image it comes from a scarcity mindset – one of lacking. If you want to be confident with your body image, it’s gotta come from abundance and love. It means a shift in perspective. May of us will think, “If I was just…thinner, curvier, taller, had bigger boobs, had curlier hair, [insert desire here] then I would be happy.” But what if you could be happy now? What if they are actually two separate things? What if happiness didn’t come from gaining whatever physical trait you desire? What if happiness wasn’t dependent on your circumstances, but instead on your thoughts? And what if that is something that you have the power to change…RIGHT NOW? Yes, you can change that right now.
So how can you stop letting your body image hold you back?
- DECIDE that you will support, love, and accept your body. Have your own body’s back.
- Become AWARE of your thoughts, feelings, + actions. Become witness to when you aren’t as kind to yourself as you should be. Don’t judge, but get curious instead and ask yourself why you are thinking or feeling the way you are. Ask yourself why you are doing the things you are doing and then work on creating solutions to change towards a more loving space.
- Then PRACTICE to improve and become more proficient. Practice new thoughts + start small. It may seem unrealistic to go from “I hate my body” to “I love my body” because you do not believe it! So create small ladder thoughts to work your way up to more powerful thoughts that you actually can believe. So that may look like
- I have a body
- I have a body that I want to learn to love
- I appreciate these traits and abilities that my body possesses
- I like these parts of my body that make me uniquely me
- I love my body
And also practice new states of being and new behaviors. For example, telling yourself in the mirror each day that you love yourself (yes, it’s weird at first, but then it starts to seem normal.) Or maybe allow yourself to accept + believe the compliments that people send your way instead of deflecting them. Allow yourself to be open to finding the good that exists with your body.
I promise you that the more confident you become with your body image, the more likely you are to show up powerfully, take part in your life fully, dress your body out of love, and you will find the energy to make your dreams come true!
And I just want to leave you with some of my favorite personal development books that touch on this subject. They have been so helpful to me with continuing to evolve with my own body image (yes, I am still very much a work in progress too!) are:
Are you wanting to learn more about how to improve your body image?
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A special thank you to DoSomething.Org, National Eating Disorders Collaboration, The School of Self Image, and The Life Coach School for sharing some amazing nuggets that helped me with putting together this blog post.