It is a sad truth that despite various differences, almost everyone in the world can relate to struggling with body image. Exploring one’s body image involves asking how they think, feel and act toward their body, and for many people, the answer to all of these is “not great.”
Unfavorable body image is detrimental to one’s self-view, resulting in harmful eating and exercise behaviors, feelings of shame and low self-worth, and difficulty viewing themselves as worthy of speaking their minds, taking up space, and/or setting boundaries. Not only that, studies indicate that negative body image is associated not only with mental health issues but a lower overall quality of life .
Make it your mission to refuse to accept a lifetime of negative body image.
Your body has been on quite a journey with you so far, and it will remain on this journey for as long as you do. The body you are in has supported you in all your emotional and physical challenges. It has allowed you to have your first kiss and hug loved ones.
It has been there with you as you have moved from one life phase to another. It will continue to support you, heal you, and carry you in all of these ways and more.
If another person did that for you, you would likely think of them more highly than you do of your body. With this perspective, it might be time to reintroduce yourself to your body with a newer, kinder, more grateful attitude. Your body is your most loyal companion in the journey of life. Treat it that way.
Strive for Love but Start with Liking Your Body Image
The idea of loving one’s body when they have spent their entire lives disliking, critiquing, and possibly hating it is daunting. Don’t be afraid to start smaller.
Begin by practicing liking your body by exploring those parts of it that you can be grateful for or connect with. Consider how acceptance and kindness play a role in building a relationship of love.
You will not wake up and love your body magically overnight. Recognize that learning to love your body is a process that begins with getting to know it again, allowing yourself to engage with it without judgment, and allowing yourself to see the beauty of it.
Stop Body Image Comparison This Moment
As soon as you finish this article, begin your goal of reducing body comparison. Body comparison means feeding into unfair social expectations, diet culture, and the beauty industry in a way that benefits them greatly and you not at all.
What makes our bodies function and appear as they do is a complex process of biology that is nothing short of a miracle. Comparison will lie to you and tell you that you should look differently, that you are not enough, that someone else’s different body makes them more worthy than you, and that it is possible to make your body look like theirs will fix all of this. It isn’t.
There will always be someone that appears differently than you. Yes, they are beautiful, strong, and worthy. So are you. Both of you are worthy, and none of it is because of your physical appearance or body.
You cannot accept your body while simultaneously comparing it to every other body in the world. Again, is that how you would treat a friend, comparing them to every other friend that is different and determining it means they aren’t enough?
I didn’t think so. Honor your body for the incredible “friend” it is to you.
Resources Nayir, T. et al. (2016). Does body image affect quality of life? A population based study. PLoS ONE, 11:9.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published March 26, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on March 26, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC