The Body Image Movement (known as #bopo) on social media has become super popular in the last few years. As a therapist that specializes in body image & eating disorders I am thrilled! I’ve seen companies become more body-inclusive in their advertising and celebrities speak out about their body image struggles. Yet I also know the idea of building body-positivity can feel impossible if you’re struggling with an eating disorder or hate our body. If you’re a perfectionist, you may even feel like you’re not body-positive enough. Or you might feel bad that you can’t just “get there” and be body positive.
If this sounds like you, I get it! Rather than trying to go from negative to positive body image, why not focus on accepting your body instead? Accepting our body is about appreciating all the amazing things it does for us & remembering that there are things in our lives that are way more important than what are body looks like. Here are a few ideas to get you accepting (and maybe even appreciating) your body.
- Identify All the Things Your Body Does for You It’s easy to focus on what our body looks like. When we do this, we lose track of all the amazing things our body does for us. I remember a few years ago doing a crazy overnight hike through the Grand Canyon. Throughout the hike I was so amazed my body could do this! I had never pushed myself like that before and for weeks after the hike was in awe of my body. It was such a great reminder of the amazing things our body can do. The experience gave me a whole new appreciation for my body.
To build your own body appreciation try making a list of your different body parts. Identify what this body part does for you. For example, maybe your nose allows you to smell fresh coffee and flowers. Your thighs help you walk up stairs and move through your spin class. Make a list and see where it takes you!
- Practice Gratitude It’s so easy to focus on how we don’t look or what we don’t have. If you are able-bodied or physically well take a moment to thank your body. Maybe you’ve struggled with and overcome physical illness in the past. Or maybe you are struggling with an eating disorder today. Thank your body for still being here for you despite the challenges you are putting it through. Remember that your body is always working with you and for you. Your body is not your enemy.
- Focus on the Important Things in Your Life that Don’t Have Anything to do With Your Body Our culture puts so much emphasis on what we look like. Yet at the end of the day it’s not that important. Our success in relationships, income and career are determined by our personality traits & perseverance, not our looks. When we focus on our body we lose track of the things that really matter. Make a list of the things in your life that are most important to you. Maybe it’s your family, career or being a great friend. When you start to focus on your body remind yourself of the things that really matter, your values. You can even act toward your values when you focus on your body. This might mean calling a friend or working on a work project when you start body-obsessing.
- Take Good Care of your Physical Body
When you don’t like your body it may be difficult to take care of it. You may not want to feed your body when you are hungry or make sure you get enough sleep. Making a commitment to taking care of your physical body can help you accept your body. This includes taking care of your hygiene and grooming. Don’t wait until you lose weight or change your looks to buy the clothes you want. You deserve to get a great haircut, and style yourself in a way that feels good to you. You deserve to take care of yourself now.