Body Image: Its Role in Our Decisions
Jared had every intention of calling Sue for a date until it was time to do it. He just knew that he wasn’t good enough for her. He didn’t look fit and she would surely only date a fit man.
Jared has thought very little about how his body image is changing his life. It seems to not only change the way he sees himself but the way that he acts as a result.
Some people think a lot about body image and still don’t know how to make theirs better. Part of improving your body image is understanding the aspects of body image and how they change your life.
The Aspects of Body Image
Most people think that body image is the way that you see yourself. Are you happy and comfortable with how you look? That is certainly a big part of body image but consider these parts as well: the thoughts and beliefs you have about your body and the things you do in relation to the way you look.
The Way You See Yourself
The way that you see yourself is not something that you came up with entirely on your own. It is important to think about how your environment has taken control of how you see yourself. Recognizing this can help you to regain control of your body image.
Megan grew up listening to people tell her sister how skinny she was and nobody commented on Megan’s size. Even though Megan didn’t receive negative comments about her body she still grew up thinking she wasn’t skinny.
We grow up and notice what body types are given praise and which ones are put on the cover of a magazine. This is a really easy way to end up labeling yourself as less than beautiful.
Men are praised for their muscles and fit bodies so it is easy to declare yourself less than. We learn a lot of things from the culture and environment we grow up in and that plays a big role in how we see ourselves. Especially how we feel about how we see ourselves.
You may see yourself as out of shape but does that make you dislike your body? Your feelings around how you see yourself are what will influence your decisions. They may even create distortions in how you see yourself. This is when you see yourself differently than you actually are.
The Thoughts and Beliefs You Have About Your Body
You say a lot about your body to yourself. These are thoughts like, “if my skin could tan then people would like me more.” “If I lost weight I would get the job.” “My arms are flabby and everybody notices.”
These thoughts and beliefs come really easy when you start to compare how you look to others. You assume things would be different if your body looked different. This then changes the decisions you make for yourself every day.
Your Actions in Relation to The Way You Look
Jared didn’t call Sue because of his beliefs about his body. We make decisions every day based on our beliefs about our bodies. Have you ever told yourself you couldn’t wear something because of how your arms looked? Have you ever skipped a beach trip because of how you feel in a swimsuit?
There are other decisions that are less obviously affected by our body image. The confidence to walk into an interview like the job is yours is hard to find when you aren’t happy with the way that you look. The ability to take care of your body is harder when you don’t love your body. Body image creeps into almost everything that we do.
A Positive Body Image
A positive body image is when you accept and appreciate your body. It requires a broad concept of beauty. The standard for beauty is not something a magazine can decide. A positive body image also includes stable thoughts and beliefs about your body. This means that if someone says something negative about your body, it doesn’t shake your own image of yourself.
How you see yourself is not dependent on how others see you. Your beliefs about yourself are not easily influenced by what others think when you have a positive body image.
Of course, a positive body image is not something we magnificently arrive at. It is a process and journey that you need to be mindful of your whole life.
A Negative Body Image
It’s important to know what contributes to a negative body image so you can stop those habits as soon as you notice them.
These are all things that lead to a negative body image:
- comparing yourself to others
- feeling inadequate compared to others
- feeling ashamed or embarrassed about your body
- feeling uncomfortable in your body
- worrying about what others think/say about your body
- seeing a body part in a distorted way
Everybody has done these things. So now, what are we going to do about it?
Tips For Improving Body Image
There are things that you can work on every day to help you improve your body image. At first, it will take a lot of work to override old habits. With time and consistency, you will replace the negative beliefs with positive ones.
Spend Time With People Who Have a Positive Outlook
We pick up a lot of things from the people we spend time with. A positive body image could certainly be one of them. When we see other people loving and appreciating their body it feels easier to do the same.
Buy Comfortable Clothes You Love
Don’t tell yourself you don’t deserve to buy new clothes because you aren’t at your “goal size”. Love your body where it is right now and get comfortable clothes you love. When you love what you are wearing, you will feel more comfortable and confident in your body.
Practice Positive Self Talk
When you look in the mirror, start listing the things you love about yourself. Declare new beliefs about your body. Love your smile, love your strength, and love your eyes that match your mom’s.
Appreciate What Your Body Can Do
Instead of feeling down about your body after going through a tough time, admire your body for the things it can do for you. Can you dance? sing? Create with your hands? Can you walk around the block in the sun?
Your body is an amazing vehicle to do all of the things that you love.
Avoid Making Comparisons
This is possibly the hardest one on the list. Nobody has the same body and nobody has the same life. You were never meant to look like anybody else. The way someone else looks has no effect on the way that you look. Comparisons make us believe that how somebody else looks changes the way that we look and that is not true.
When you catch yourself comparing, try to change those thoughts to strictly compliments. You can compliment someone else and compliment yourself as well.
See Yourself as a Whole Person
When you look in the mirror do your eyes go to a specific body part? Are you always checking to see how your stomach looks that day? When you look in the mirror just look at yourself as a whole person. One whole amazing person. There is no one body part that can define you.
Take Care of Your Body
By taking care of something, we build a love for it. Taking care of your body by eating right and exercising takes respect. When you are taking care of your body you build a positive relationship with yourself. You learn you can trust yourself to take care of your body and you see your body as strong and capable.
Increased Confidence with a Positive Body Image
When you are able to improve your body image you will find yourself with increased confidence and happiness. You will be surprised what you can do and accomplish with that confidence and happiness. You don’t need to have the perfect body in order to love your body. Just because someone has what you would consider the perfect body, doesn’t mean they love their body.
Everyone is in charge of their own body image. There is nothing anybody can say or do to take it away from you.