Body image is defined as how you think and feel about your body. Having concerns about how you look is not in itself a mental illness, but a negative body image can trigger a range of problems such as putting you at higher risk for depression and eating disorders.
Here are some steps you can take to develop a healthier body image:
- Treasure what your body can do. Every day, your body works tirelessly to let you eat, breathe, sleep, laugh, play, dream, have sex, earn money, etc. Be thankful for this amazing body.
- Make a list of the 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your weight or appearance. Refer to this list every day, so that you will feel good about yourself regardless of how you look.
- Remember that true beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is a state of mind. The most charismatic people in the world are not necessarily the most physically attractive; instead, they are the ones who feel good about themselves, and therefore radiate a sense of confidence and openness that makes others gravitate towards them.
- When you look at the mirror, don’t nitpick. Don’t focus on specific body parts and what is wrong with them; instead, see yourself as you want others to see you – as a whole person.
- Have good role models. Surround yourself with body positive people. It will be easier to feel good about your body when you are with friends who have a healthy body image.
- Search for body positive affirmations online. Then print them out and post them where you can see them often. The next time you feel bad about how you look, refer to these mantras to pick yourself up.
- When choosing clothes, pick comfort over trends. Everyone’s body built is differently, so the outfit that looks good on a supermodel or your co-worker will not necessarily look as good on you. Instead, choose clothes that flatter what you already have; when you are comfortable, you will feel good and confident.
- Watch what you see on social and mass media. Photographs can be manipulated to look good with the aid of proper lighting, filters, and Photoshop. People can also change the way they look through shapewear, makeup, and hair extensions. Don’t feel envious or sad; be aware that what you see is not necessarily what is real.
Transforming negative thoughts into a positive body image will not happen overnight. Let the list above guide you in taking small steps towards a healthier way of regarding your body. Hopefully one day, you will embrace the body that you naturally have and feel better about yourself.