It may come as a shock to you but having a positive body image is not just about loving what your body looks like. Positive body image is not just about learning to love the shape of your thighs or the size of your waist. Honestly, sometimes I wish it was that simple.
How we see ourselves in the mirror has a direct relationship with how we feel about ourselves internally paired with the feedback we get from our external environment.
In an article posted in Psychology Today, Dr. Elizabeth Halsted states, “Negative messages from others in our lives and from the media can make this [positive body image] a challenging proposition. Creating a positive body image requires being able to integrate our feelings about ourselves with the messages we are getting from others.”
No matter what you look like if your sense of self and opinion about your own personality is negative, weak, or disrupted- your opportunity to love what you see in a mirror will be too.
To simplify: You know how when you look at pictures from high school and think “Ugh man I can’t believe I thought I was fat back then- I would kill to have that body now.” Or something along those lines. . . .
In high school most of us don’t have a full sense of self developed yet- we are still learning who we are- trying out different things- becoming comfortable and confident with who we are actually made to be- so we are at the same time- not able to fully recognize the beauty and purpose in our outward appearance due to this combined with the insanely harsh and critical environmental messages we receive from others. If we had a strong sense of self and non judgmental opinion of our 16 year old being then we would have more closely recognized that we were not in fact as terribly disproportionate back then.
And if this example doesn’t make great sense to you- maybe today is the day you realize you still haven’t allowed yourself to developed your full sense of self. Maybe today you still haven’t realized your capabilities- who you truly are- why your strengths are your strengths and where you need the most help- and allowing this to all be ok.
Loving our bodies is never going to just happen. I don’t know that I believe that one day you can just decide to push away all the negative beliefs you’ve created about the shape of your stomach and the height of your cheekbones. It is more than this.
Allow positive body image to be more than this.
The day you wake up and start loving what you see in the mirror will be the morning after you start going to bed loving what you feel in your heart.
Brene Brown was not wrong when she said that the major difference between people who lived whole-heartedly and people who didn’t was the people that did believed they were worthy.
When you start believing you are good enough- that is when you will be good enough. Period. Positive body image is about learning that your body is not your whole person- it in a way helps you create sense of self “armor’- so when those negative messages from the environment do hit you (because they will)- you have safety in knowing that doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy anymore.
Instead of trying a new diet, deciding that you’ll be happy when you are a size 6, committing to running 13 miles every Saturday- put some of that energy and commitment into finding out who you truly are;
- Find the redeeming parts of your humor.
- Figure out something you love learning about and become a self proclaimed expert on it,
- Identify what makes your heart beat faster and what calms you down.
- Learn to love the sound of your own voice.
- Appreciate your whole person.
Positive Body image requires more than affirming your appearance and recognizing the abilities your body has other than looking good. Positive Body image requires learning to lean into yourself as a human being- you may just find that if you can conquer that task- liking what you see in the mirror may just become a side effect.