Submitted by Belinda from Talk ED
Body image can be described as our perceptions, thoughts and feelings towards our body. These perceptions, thoughts and feelings ultimately result in the actions that we take towards our body.
In today’s society, we are bombarded with images of people with a specific body shape or body size. We also live in a society that values physical beauty in an arguably disproportionate manner and each society and culture stipulates a specific ‘beauty standard’. The human brain instinctively compares ourselves with others. It can be argued that the bombardment of images we consume encourages us to compare ourselves to the people we see and feel negatively towards ourselves if we feel our own image does not match the images we are consuming. Negative comments that we receive can also affect how we feel about our own bodies. Furthermore, if we listen to our own parents or caregivers talk negatively about their own bodies, it may set an example for us to do the same.
Body image can be separated into different areas:
8 steps to feeling better about your body image
Vet the information and images that you consume on a day to day basis. Take an inventory of the TV and social media that you consume and unfollow or remove any influences that don’t make you feel good about yourself. Instead, try following body positive influencers or look for body positive and body inclusive media.
2. Be mindful of the negative things you say about your body
Try to catch yourself before you say anything negative and do something to change the narrative. Even if you can’t bring yourself to say something positive about your body, try to at least be neutral e.g. “my legs are unique” as opposed to “my legs are ugly”.
3. Find images of people who do not fit the ‘perfect’ body type, but who you find to be beautiful
Use these images to remind yourself that beauty is not a one-stop shop and it exists in all shapes and sizes.
4. Make a list of all the things that make you beautiful, which don’t have anything to do with your physical appearance
This could be your caring attitude, your generosity, your talent in something creative, or anything else! Refer back to this list at times when you’re struggling with your body image.
5. Make a habit out of touching one body part a day with a gentle and caring touch
For example, touch your cheek like someone who loves you would touch it. Massage your hands as someone would if they wanted you to relax. This is a proactive way of showing love to your body amid all the criticism in your mind. It also helps to integrate your body, mind and soul and not to see your body as something alien or separate to you and something to be purely objectified.
6. Make a daily habit of showing gratitude to a part of your body
This can be done by writing in a gratitude journal or just making a mental note. For example, after going for a walk, be grateful to your legs that carried you. Be grateful to your feet after a long day for getting you where you needed to be. Try doing it first to parts that you don’t have too much of a problem with, and gradually work up to parts that you are more self conscious of.
7. Try to find something positive about a part of your body that you really dislike
For example, “the skin on my belly is really soft to touch”.
8. If looking in mirrors is triggering, try removing or covering them up
If you have mirrors in your bedroom or other parts of the house try to remove or cover them to see if that helps, at least on a temporary basis. You can always put them back up again if and when you feel ready.
If you are experiencing negative thoughts and feelings about your body, support is available. We are here to listen to any worries that you may have and to provide practical support and guidance towards recovery.