Most of us carry around a lot of “shoulds” about how we look and what we see in the mirror. I “should” be twenty pounds lighter, I “should” wear nicer clothes, I “should” only post pictures on social media with a full face of makeup. It consumes us, our image of our own body. We focus so much on what we view as the outside world’s perception of beauty and perfection, that we completely lose sight of our own unique look, personality, and self.
How do you see yourself? If you are anything like me, you likely look at yourself in the mirror and have things you like or at least tolerate, and parts of your body that you loathe and wish you could digitally touch up in real life. I’m guessing you’ve also looked back at pictures of yourself from the past and thought “if I could just go back to that weight,” knowing full well at the time of the photo you fully believed your butt was too big, your boobs too small, blah blah. This cycle of judging ourselves is vicious and can be never-ending if you don’t step in and provide your own intervention.
Guys, we are ASSES to ourselves. Rude and unforgiving, we tell our friends, “so you’ve gained a few pounds, but you look better than ever,” (and mean it!), but would NEVER offer yourself this grace. Instead the self-talk that happens when we fall short of our own expectations (always) is for lack of a better word, straight-up abusive.
Over the last 4 years I have gained FORTY pounds. Holy shit, when I say it I want to throw up a little. I will say I started out underweight for my frame after my unintentional divorce diet, but where my weight sits now is about twenty pounds outside of my comfort zone. I am kicking ass in all other arenas in my life, BUT with my own health I have faltered. And I am hard on myself about it, for a lot of reasons, but primarily because I KNOW what to do to be healthy. Bodies are my business! So, as I work through it all myself, I want to put this out to you, knowing full well I am not alone in this, and maybe to hold myself accountable a bit too.
So how do we shut up the deranged body image committee in our head? Let’s just start by saying it is NOT by taking a mirror selfie with a bikini on so we can critique ourselves. Guilty. Anyone else? It’s ok, there’s work to be done. Having a positive image of your body is not immodest, it is crucial to confidence and affects so many areas of life! Let’s get started.
- Stop comparing. Ouch, that’s a tough one. We are inundated by media that can be outright offensive – avoid magazines, websites, or TV shows that obviously focused on image. Stop looking on social media for the skinny girls and all THEIR mirror selfies, it’s just not healthy. And STOP comparing your forty-year-old self to your twenty-year-old self. (SHIT). Yup I do it, and it doesn’t even make sense! I mean a few things have changed since then.
- Focus on what you can change. If you hate your broad shoulders, well there is not much that is going to change that. Also, they do come in super handy when your kid needs a boost. BUT maybe part of the reason you aren’t happy is because your arms don’t feel toned. YOU CAN CHANGE THAT! Grab some weights from the garage, dust them off, and google arm exercises. Focus on what you can do then get to work (and be proud of yourself for it!).
- Dress for body image success. Don’t look at your wardrobe and think, why bother getting something new, it won’t look good anyways. DON’T. Buy clothes that fit. Throw out the ones that don’t. You don’t need to save jeans four sizes too small just to hold them over your head. And let’s face it, if you ever do get back into those jeans, they are from the junior section and may not cover your vagina. Buy clothes that make you feel pretty, strong, proud and be done with the rest.
- Take care of your body. Take a bath, do your nails, get a massage. Your body is the most important home you will ever have, treat it right and your mind will follow.
- Edit your circle. Are you spending time with friends who focus every conversation on their body and what they wish they could change? This may not be the best place for you to be. Seek out support from people who energize you and make you feel good. Find the positive lights and let them influence you. Exercise together, swap healthy meal ideas, hold each other accountable and watch your body image head in the right direction.
- Practice the body image golden rule – treat YOURSELF how you treat others. Stop talking to yourself like a rampaging tyrant. If you wouldn’t stand in front of someone and say, “you’re fat, get it together,” don’t say it to yourself. This takes practice, I know. Try this instead, when you are tempted to say something negative about your body, instead pick something you love and tell yourself, “you have pretty … (eyes, hair, ankles, get creative),” Then STOP. It gets easier.
I want to keep going here, but I could likely come up with 57 tips for this, so I will leave the rest to you … and google. But do consider this, what you resist persists, so if you continue to only focus on the negative, you will spend a lifetime hating your body. Think of all the other things you could be doing with that time and energy! We will do this together, repeat after me … “I love my body, I love my body,” and slowly, we will get there.