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“Spring Break”: When Poor Body Image Gets You Down

Article Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Director @ Eating Disorder Hope and Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope

Spring is upon us, and with that, a season of new beginnings and fresh starts.  Many students are rejoicing as they reach their ever-needed Spring Break, a time of relaxation and rest from stressful schedules and academic pressures.  For many, spring break involves an escape to a warmer destiny; somewhere where the troubles of winter can be melted away.

Amidst the crowds, lax schedules, and warm weather attire, many individuals may find themselves stuck in the rut of harsh self scrutiny and poor body image.  Feeling insecure in one’s appearance or looks can ensnare a woman or man in a cloud of negativity and self-doubt.  Lacking self-esteem or having poor body image could become handicapping; in the sense that it may be preventing someone form thriving in the experiences that life has to offer.

How do you know if you may be struggling with poor body image?  Here are some red flags that may indicate poor self-esteem or body insecurities:

  • Chronically Comparing:  Many individuals who struggle with poor body image may constantly be comparing themselves to others.  This may include people who are regularly encountered (such as family or friends), as well as strangers, celebrities, models in magazines, etc.  Comparing can involve particular body parts, size, or certain characteristics.  This often leads to greater dissatisfaction with one’s appearance and body image.
  • Unable to receive compliments or praise:  Even the kindest gesture or compliment from another person can be difficult to accept when you are struggling with poor body image.  Individuals with low self-esteem may be quick to deflect any compliments or praises or find reason to suspect another’s motive when complimented.
  • Hypersensitivity in interactions with others:  Low self-esteem or poor body image may lead to constant questioning about how others act and what others say.  Many motives, behaviors, gestures, and words can be misinterpreted to mean failure when an individual constantly sees themselves in a negative light.
  • Inability to enjoy the present:  When body image concerns are at the forefront of one’s mind, it can become all consuming to the point that it is impossible to think of anything else.  Living in the moment is not achievable when thoughts are focused on body “imperfections”.

The truth is, for an individual struggling with poor body image, these issues may be constantly present, not just during a certain time.  While some circumstances and situations may be more triggering, learning how to build positive self-esteem may be helpful in breaking the paralyzing effect of poor body image.

No matter what season of life you may be in, you can strengthen your self-worth and learn to love and appreciate your body.  If you have lived in a critical relationship with your body, this may be difficult to imagine.  Take small steps towards self-love and appreciation.  Begin by practicing awareness of negative thoughts you may have about yourself throughout the day.  Challenge those thoughts with something you appreciate about yourself, even if you do not yet believe it.  There are many other ways you can boost your self-confidence, such as nurturing yourself and treating your body kindly, giving to or serving others, writing positive affirmations for yourself, and spending time with people who appreciate and celebrate your unique attributes.

Spring break can become a time that uncannily promotes diet fads and crazes, creating frenzy for anyone who may already be struggling with poor body image.  Take the opportunity to strengthen yourself and go against the grain that is often promoted by our culture.  You are an individual unlike any other, your life precious and valuable.  Rejoice in the fact that you are beautifully created – that alone is cause for celebration.

 

Last Reviewed and Updated By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on
February 23, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com, Information and Online Resources for Eating Disorders

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