BODY IMAGE

BODY IMAGE

| 'accept your body and develop a healthy body image'

an everyday moment:

I have looked in the mirror and wished parts of my body were different. Sometimes it’s my arms, sometimes it’s my thighs, sometimes it’s the size of my boobs or my butt. Isn’t it absolutely heart-wrenching that when I read what I just wrote, I immediately think that ‘yeah, that’s normal - it’s just no one really saids out loud what is in their head’? Just pause and think about that for a second - as a society, we have normalised wanting your body look different - if you were completely satisfied with your body and wished nothing to look different, you would be considered abnormal.
How many of us carry the weight of our physical insecurities everyday and continue to believe that it is okay? Look, you may have gotten all shocked in the first two sentences but the number of ‘casual’ reels I’ve seen of guys being asked if they prefer ‘boobs or butt’ FAR OUTWEIGHS the number of videos that teach women how to relate to their body in a healthy way.

a reflection:

for example →

When I think ‘my arm is fat’, ‘fat’ immediately has negative connotations due to societal messaging and I reinforce the idea that I am somehow already inadequate in the first moments of my morning. See, it doesn’t even matter if my arm is actually fat (what does ‘actually fat’ even mean - it’s all relative and dependent on either your opinion or another’s?) - the root cause of suffering lies in how I have attached my self-worth to my body. Here, I view my body as an indicator of how confident and worthy I should feel, creating a toxic relationship.

This is because my perception of my body can change based on mood and my body image also fluctuates. In moments where I am bloated, my self-esteem face plants and in moments where I am not bloated, my self-esteem skyrockets. Confidence and self-worth are foundations of our character that need to come from a stable source, not a constantly changing one. Do you see how dangerous it is to source all our confidence and worth from our body appearance? It forces so much pressure to maintain a ‘good’ body image all the time even at the sacrifice of our mental and physical helath. And this ‘good’ body image is dictated by societal messaging of what the ideal body type of a woman is which is once again CONSTANTLY CHANGING. This can lead to excessive restriction and control over food and exercise OR lead to extreme disattachment from the body where dissatisfaction is numbed by bingeing or ignoring health entirely.

The societal messaging around body image for females doesn’t help us either. The women we see on media who receive the most love, acceptance and belonging all have certain body types. Just pick a Disney princess and see what I mean c’mon. Growing up with films, TV shows and certain-looking females going viral on social media reinforces the idea in our naive girl-minds that our success is directly correlated with our body and how we appear to others, particularly the media-constructed male gaze. Our success and ability to pursue our dreams is NOT dependent on our body. Our health is definitely dependent on our mobility and nutrition. And health is a crucial factor in having the strength to achieve goals that require courage and bravery. So view body image as an outcome of your exercise and nutrition routine, like all results, it takes time, and the results fluctuate. In the meantime, learn to enjoy the privilege you have to exercise and nourish yourself - it’s about mobility, mental wellness, cardiovascular activity, and relieving tension from your body. The appreciation of the aesthetics of what your body looks like afterwards is just an added bonus, but the prize lies in that feeling of inner strength.

magic in the mundane:

So what do I do in that moment? That moment where I compare my body to some imaginary model in my head or when I wish my body to be different. Firstly, no, it’s not about lying to yourself and going ‘yay I have my dream body’, it’s about rewiring your thought patterns and disrupting the dependency of your worth on the appearance of body parts.

I think ‘pause’, ‘rewind’ what I just thought (e.g. my arm is fat), remind myself that when I consistently tell myself something I start to believe it (I may have said this to myself over and over again after someone told me this in Year 9 - we often associate acceptance, love and belonging with punishing ourselves to conform to how others want us to be), show gratitude for that body part (these are the arms that hug my family and friends, these are the arms I use to pirouette, these are the arms I use to cook), accept that I feel dissatisfied in the moment and allow myself to feel differently. Give myself permission to show up with confidence and belief in myself regardless of my body image on that day - remind myself that it is even more self-affirming to continue to show up in spite of insecurities. Leave the mirror feeling uplifted rather than defeated.

fromtheheart mantras:

  • Your body image does not always indicate your health - it can be a very vague indicator in the very least but since your body image constantly fluctuates, the indicator of your health needs to be something that can be replied upon.
    • Maybe it’s the feeling of taking a breath of fresh air on a walk, or being able to do more push-ups than you could last time, or tuning in with your body and deciding to only do a stretch that day.

 

  • Our perception of our body is very limited - no picture, amount of scrutinising yourself will give you a fully accurate image of your body - it is always tainted with what you already believe about your body.
    • So learn to develop a trust with yourself, be honest about how your body looks (or honest about how you might be distorting how your body looks) and be honest about how your beliefs about your body or your insecurities may be infiltrating how you see your body and work on each of these until you feel neutral about your body and are committed to honouring it as the one temple you get to experience life with.

 

  • Accepting your body does not mean ‘being okay’ with it in a resigned sense of way. It means allowing yourself to have a stable and strong sense of worth regardless of how your body looks AND being committed to treating your body well BECAUSE you feel good about yourself.

It's an ongoing process, so remember to be patient with yourself!

with love, always <3

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