Bad Body Image Days.
We all have ‘em.
Yep. All of us.
Even the coaches, trainers, fitness celebs and clean eating cookbook creators. No one is immune from entertaining negative thoughts and feelings about their body. Not one of us is perpetually positive.
So, what separates those who are regularly affected and consumed with negative body image from those who aren’t? And why do some people become obsessed with perceptions of their form while others are more easily able to move on?
Body acceptance, valuing and approving of your body regardless of perceived inadequacy and imperfection is what keeps “bad body image thoughts” (or days) from turning into ongoing negative body image and the dangerous mental and behavioral implications that follow.
Of course, body acceptance isn’t a quick solution. For many of us it takes time, curiosity, self-awareness and practice to be at peace in a body that is the regular object of conversation and criticism in culture, media and marketing. Bodies, particularly female bodies, are always in the line of fire. Just look at Lady Gaga who killed it with 13 minutes of stunts, sparkles, songs and dance steps at the Super Bowl only to be critiqued on the shape of her stomach.
There’s no doubt about it, we’re under attack. Which is why it’s extremely important that we’re not taking cues from the opposition. Confronting bad body image moments by challenging your inner critic (that voice in your head that has a tendency to say you’re wrong, unacceptable or not good enough) and investigating negative body perceptions are essential acts of self-care and awareness.
SO HERE’S A QUICK, CURIOUS AND COMPASSIONATE SURVEY FOR WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BOTHERED BY YOUR BOD:
- What (if anything) is happening at home, at work, in my relationships or in my life that has me feeling uncomfortable and seeking distraction through body preoccupation?
- Was there a specific event, conversation or media frenzy directly linked to my body or bodies in general that could be triggering my negative thoughts?
- What’s my visual world like? Have I been viewing airbrushed images showcasing the thin ideal, dieting ads or fitspo posts in magazines, social media or television that either explicitly or implicitly convey the message that I need to be “fixed” and my body is unacceptable?
- Am I tired, sick or otherwise not feeling myself and simply in need of some TLC?
- Have I been judging my food choices and subsequently reflecting those judgments on my body?
- Do my clothes fit (my current shape and style)?
- What am I believing about myself in this moment?
- What makes me valuable? And who determines that worth?
- Three things I appreciate about my body.
- Three things I like about myself.
- What do I need today?
- What can I do, in this body, to show love to myself and/or others RIGHT NOW?
There you have it – INQUIRY – one of the most powerful antidotes to overcoming the body image blues. Give it a try the next time you’re faced with negative feelings about the skin you’re in. Get curious, deconstruct your thoughts and circumstances, reflect and learn. Then apply your observations to the lifelong work of creating healthy boundaries, curating safe spaces, building confidence and otherwise fostering body acceptance.