Body image has historically been an issue for women, but it is increasingly becoming one for men as well. I have been a victim to negative body image, and if there’s one thing I know from experience, it’s that a negative body image not only impacts your confidence, but also your relationships. It’s not always easy to change a negative self-image quickly, but there are practices we can do to overcome this increasingly prevalent issue. So, let’s get to loving these bodacious bods we all have!
YOUR BODY IS A WONDERLAND
John Mayer told us that in the early 2000s. Your body is a temple. It’s YOUR sacred entity. You can own its power, or you can give its power away. Who do we give it away to? Other people – friends, lovers, potential mates, and perhaps one of the biggest culprits…
THE MEDIA IS MADDENING
…any and all types of media. It appears that everywhere we look, we see more examples of how we’re not enough, or how we need to purchase a product in order to be enough. And many of us believe and give into it! Yours truly used to be one of them. As if we’re not already insecure enough – there’s an entire industry that plays off our insecurities and uses them to make millions of dollars. I’m all for healthy ways to be our best selves, and I believe we should constantly be growing. But I no longer subscribe to the idea of letting society, or an industry focused on getting my dolla billz, make me feel less than I am. I want you to know you’re enough, too!
YOU, YOUR BODY, AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
The thing about negative body image is that it doesn’t just impact you. It also shows up in your relationships. I used to shame myself all the time for my body. It was a definite hindrance in former relationships and hook ups. I had weird habits like not taking my shirt off (because I loathed my stomach) or needing to be under the sheet (so whoever I was with couldn’t see the body I was ashamed to have). What did those habits show up as? A lack of confidence. And if there’s one thing we know about what others find attractive, it’s confidence. Not even just romantically. People who are confident in themselves draw others in, and others find them attractive – sometimes wishing they themselves had that same confidence.
When you have a negative self-image, it can show up more often than just in the bedroom with your mate. S/he could reach over to rub your back, and you push them away because you don’t want them to feel what you think is back fat. S/he could say you look great in that outfit, but you think your arms look too big so you tell them they’re wrong. As a partner, it becomes exhausting, and s/he can give up on doing/saying those acts of love because they’re continuously being rejected for them.
What they say is true: If you don’t love you, how can you expect anyone else to love you? It always starts with loving ourselves first. When we do that, loving and being loved by others becomes so much easier! Being at peace with your body will show up as confidence and provide you with the ability to connect more with your partner.
I’m not here to sell you a product that will change some part of your body in order to make you feel better about your body. A product alone can’t do that – only YOU have the power to change your mindset to have a more positive body image! So instead, I offer you some of my favorite ways to improve body image. It took me quite some time to be comfortable in my skin and learn the best ways to treat my body well and with love. Trust me, if I can do it…a formerly self-loathing super harsh critic…you can do it too!
1. Look in the mirror and say out loud what you love or appreciate about your body.
This may sound easy, but for most people at first it is not! We’re used to looking at ourselves in the mirror and seeing all the negatives, all the “I wish X wasn’t Y” examples. So turning that around 180 degrees to instead focus on the positive can be difficult, especially if you’ve been societally trained to see the flaws first.
Start small, with whatever you can really believe. For example, “I love my arms because they give really tight hugs,” or “I appreciate my stretch marks because it shows my body has been through changes and I’m healthier now than I used to be.” We all have different examples, and I’d be lying if I said some of mine would sound really weird another person. But since our lenses of how we view our bodies are so different, what we appreciate about them is also different!
2. Start by saying affirmations out loud in front of the mirror.
If at first you can truly find nothing positive to say about your body, start by saying affirmations out loud in front of the mirror. Affirmations aren’t for everyone, but I can speak from experience how they have positively impacted my life. An affirmation is a statement or proposition that is declared to be true. So even if you can’t find one positive thing to say about your body, you can say an affirmation as a way to train your mind to [eventually] believe it. For example, during a time of my life when I needed to make big life decisions, I said affirmations that were about being courageous. “I have confidence in my decisions” and “I am willing and ready to take risks” are specific affirmations I said out loud every day. And after doing them for a month straight, I really started believing them. And made the big, life changing decisions I need to make.
3.Listen to and notice the positive things others say!
Sometimes the negative noise in our heads is so loud with the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies and self-image that we drown out the positive things other people say about us. We miss out on compliments all the time because instead of hearing and believing them, we immediately want to negate them. Stop negating and start listening! Other people see such good in you and they tell you more often than you realize. Pay attention to those compliments and allow them to feed your positively changing self-image!
** DISCLAIMER ** While we should be listening and appreciating the positive compliments others tell us, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day no one else’s opinion of you matters except YOURS! Ignore what the haters say and pay attention only to the positive things from people that will promote increased body image.
4. Practice releasing judgment of other people.
This is something I focused on as a New Year’s resolution at one point in my life and it changed so many things for me, one of which was helping me reduce the judgment of myself! First, I realized how much I judged people – which was more than I thought and hard to admit, since I consider myself to be incredibly kind and non-judgmental. Once I noticed that, I worked hard to stop a few things.
o One was participating in conversations that involved judging others. Sometimes that meant being quiet among a group of friends. It wasn’t easy but helped me reduce the amount of gossip I participated in at the expense of others.
o Another thing was when judgmental thoughts came through my mind, I actually stopped them. I never said them out loud to anyone, and I stopped the thought from completing by telling myself “So what? Everyone is entitled to do their own thing even if it’s not what I would choose.” After practicing that for a while, I found that it also helped me release judgment of myself. Since I was able to stop thoughts of judgment towards others, the amount of judgmental thoughts I had toward myself decreased significantly! If that isn’t a win/win – changing a behavior to be kinder to others and in turn also being kinder to myself – I don’t know what is!
5. Find what makes you feel good.
The only way to boost your body image is to do, wear, eat, and hang with the things and people that make you feel your best. You like dying your hair funky colors? Do it! You like eating a plant-based diet? Do it! You like wearing flowy clothing? Do it! You like a product that empowers you to feel like your best self? Buy it! You like hanging with a crowd that loves you for who you are and not what you look like? Hang with them! Every person’s “feel good” will look different – so you do you, boo!
We are all beautiful in so many ways. I want you to have a positive self-image so you can model what so many others need to see and show up as your confident self in all current/future relationships!