When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a beautiful, caring and strong woman? Or do you see an extra 10 pounds, an imperfect complexion or a disappointing appearance? It’s not just you, we tend to see the flaws in ourselves more than others would. We look in the mirror and become overly critical of our appearance, because we believe that it is the root of all our problems. Our bodies act as the scapegoats to our insecurities. For many of us, it’s easier to focus on making changes to the body, rather than making changes to the mind. Over the years, I’ve learned that the opposite is true. Changing your body does not result in a boost of confidence, nor does it dispel feelings of anxiety, inadequacy or sadness. What’s the only thing that happens when you change your body? Your body looks different.
At its most basic, the term ‘body image’ describes the way you see yourself while looking in the mirror, or through a mental image. This image is formed by years of influence, thought and your personal perception. Your body image can be categorized as either positive or negative. A positive body image means that you have a clear understanding of your body, and your shape; You celebrate and appreciate it in its natural form. People with a positive body image will feel confident and comfortable with their body, and spend little to no time worrying about food, weight and calories.
Alternately, someone with a negative body image may feel ashamed, self-conscious and anxious about their body. Feeling uncomfortable in your body is a common indicator of a negative or distorted body image. If you’re still not sure how positive or negative your body image is, think about how you feel when you get dressed in the morning. Is your mental chatter encouraging, or demeaning? If you tell yourself that everything you put on looks terrible, you likely have a negative body image.
Last week, I was speaking with one of my Rebels about her dieting kick from a few years back. She told me of the temporary success she found with one of the ‘fad diets’ of the time, a diet that restricted her from eating one of her favorite treats. Her goal was to lose about 15 pounds, which was the weight remaining after she had her first child. It took her around 3 months to achieve her goal, and when the scale finally reflected all of her hard work, she expected to feel excited, proud and confident. But when she looked up at herself in the bathroom mirror, she didn’t like what she saw looking back at her. When she went shopping to buy clothes that fit her new body, she still felt uncomfortable and self-conscious. Her ‘ah-ha!’ moment came when she realized that her three-month journey didn’t in fact make her happier. Instead, it made her realize that there were some other feelings that she hadn’t been dealing with because she mistakenly believed they were attached to her body.
When learning to accept your body image as separate from your physical body, it’s important to understand that this connection has been forming in your mind for years. Since you were a young child, you have been absorbing the beauty ideals of your family, your peers and the media. Every time we see an image of a skinny model in a magazine, we subconsciously accept that her shape is the ideal body. When we saw this message repeated time and time again, we believe that achieving that ‘perfect’ body will bring us success, happiness and prosperity. Changing our perception isn’t always easy, especially with the diet and fitness industry telling us how to we can ‘change our life in 2 short months!’ But making small incremental changes to our thought process can make a huge impact in our day-to-day lives.
I encourage my Rebel’s to try and recognize when they are feeling especially self-conscious, or uncomfortable with their appearance. Those moments often tell us a lot about the other insecurities that might be causing the thoughts of a negative body image. Try and ask yourself:
- What kind of situation am I in? Being in a new environment can cause feelings of anxiety and an enhanced awareness of your body image. Remember you can always take yourself out of a situation if it doesn’t feel right to you.
- Who am I surrounded by? Are they people who are positive and encouraging?
- Is there something else bothering me? Many of our insecurities have been developed over a long period of time, which means we may confuse them with our body image.
Ask anyone who has finally reached their goal weight or their ideal size, how did they feel after their ‘achievement’? A sense of accomplishment is expected, and a feeling of dissatisfaction with their result is too often experienced. I tell all of my Rebels that before you do anything, you have to change your perspective. Feeling confident and comfortable within your natural body is more important than working tirelessly for your ‘perfect’ body. The REBELution stands for happiness, and believes in breaking the cycle of self-hate. You are beautiful and you are already perfect just as you are.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.