Having a positive body image means feeling good about your body, both inside and out. It means accepting your body for what it is, flaws and all. It also means appreciating your body for all that it can do, not just for how it looks.
When we talk about body image struggles the automatic assumption is often that this applies to teenagers and young adults, because at those developmental stages people are often hyper concerned about what other people, particularly their peers, think about them. However the truth is anyone can struggle with having a healthy body image, regardless of their age, gender, race, or body size.
People with certain life experiences may be more likely to struggle with negative body image. These include:
- People who are fat or in larger bodies. Because of the fatphobia and sizeism in our dominant culture, people with these body types may have been subjected to negative messages about their bodies from a young age, and they may have internalized these messages.
- People with eating disorders. Eating disorders are often characterized by a distorted body image, meaning that people with these disorders may have a very negative view of their bodies.
- People with low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem may be more likely to focus on their flaws and struggle to form a positive body image.
- People who have experienced trauma. People who have experienced trauma may have a negative body image as a result of the trauma.
Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of people struggle with negative body image, but there are things you can do to improve your body image and to feel better about yourself. It is important to remember that everyone's body is different, and there is no one "right" way to look.
Here are 7 tips on how to develop a healthier body image:
1. Focus on your strengths
Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, both physical and non-physical. This will help you to focus on the positive aspects of your body and to feel more confident.
2. Avoid comparing yourself to others
It's easy to compare ourselves to others, especially when we're bombarded with images of perfect bodies in the media. But remember that everyone is different, and what looks good on one person may not look good on another. Comparing yourself to others will only make you feel worse about yourself.
3. Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would treat a friend. This means being patient with yourself, forgiving yourself for mistakes, and accepting your body for what it is. For example, if you make a mistake, don't beat yourself up about it. Just learn from it and move on.
4. Take care of your body
Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help you to feel better about your body and to boost your self-esteem. This doesn't mean that you have to be “perfect”. Just make sure that you're taking care of your body in a way that feels good to you.
5. Be mindful of the media you consume
Pay attention to the messages about body image that you're exposed to in the media. If you find yourself feeling negative about your body after watching a certain TV show or reading a certain magazine, try to limit your exposure to that media.
6. Find positive role models
Surround yourself with people who have a healthy body image and who promote positive messages about body acceptance. This could include friends, family members, celebrities, or even people you follow on social media.
7. Practice self-compassion
When you make a mistake or feel bad about your body, try to be kind and understanding to yourself. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that your body is still worthy of love and respect.
Remember, having a positive body image is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort to challenge negative body thoughts and to change your body image. But it's worth it, because a healthy body image can lead to better mental and physical health, and it can help you to live a more fulfilling life.
If you're struggling with negative body image, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to challenge negative body thoughts, develop a healthier body image, and improve your overall mental health. Click the button below to set up a free phone consultation with one of our therapists at Salt River Therapy - we’d love to share how our approach can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin.