Ways to Boost Body Image

Question what you see in the media. All media and messages are constructs – NOT reflections of reality. We can choose to use a filter that helps us to understand what an advertiser wants us to believe and then choose whether we want to believe that message. We can also let companies know when we see an ad or hear a message that makes us feel bad about ourselves. One way to do this is by tweeting a picture of the offensive ad or messaging with the hashtag #notbuyit.

Give your scale a break. It can be difficult to cultivate an attitude of body acceptance and trust when you use the number on the scale to determine whether it’s OK to feel good about yourself that day. It is ALWAYS OK to feel good about yourself – don’t let a machine tell you any differently. Neither weight nor Body Mass Index tell us anything substantial about body composition and health. Eating habits, activity patterns, and other self-care choices are much more important.

Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.

Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.

Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!

Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good instead of to lose weight. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.

Realize that you cannot change your body type : lightly muscled, bulky, or rounded, you need to appreciate your body and work with your genetic inheritance.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Your physiology is unique to you; you can’t get a sense of your body’s needs and abilities with someone else’s body as a reference point. And the research has shown that frequent comparing tends to increase negative body image.

Limit the “body checking” that you do throughout the day. Researchers have found that negative body image is reinforced by lots of time in front of the mirror, or frequent checks of (perceived) body flaws. Instead, consider rearranging your living space so that you aren’t running into full-length mirrors every time you turn around.

Create a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance. Add to it!

Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”

Educate yourself about the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement and sign the HAES pledge. HAES is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting healthy habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control), and encourages accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes, eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, and finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

Spend time with people who have a healthy relationship with food, activity, and their bodies . It will make a difference in how you feel about these issues and yourself.

Stop yourself from thinking negatively about your body. Distract yourself, refuse to get into the comments, and focus on what you like about yourself instead. This approach works over time, even if the positive self-talk feels awkward or forced in the beginning.

Have fun! Engaging in pastimes that leave you feeling good can actually help you to feel comfortable in your own skin. Particularly helpful are activities that are relaxing, soothing, or spiritual, or that allow us to connect to others. Remember that when we don’t have ways to manage stress or anxiety, we are more susceptible to being critical of our bodies.

Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.

Sign the pledge to end fat talk. Fat talk refers to statements that we make in everyday conversation that reinforce one ideal standard for physical appearance, and contribute our dissatisfaction with our bodies. Examples of fat talk include saying things like “I feel so fat.” “Do I look fat in this?”, and “You look great! Have you lost weight?” Try not to engage in fat talk about yourself or others, challenge your friends when they engage in fat talk, and make non appearance related compliments like, “I love your sense of style” or “I admire how hard you work.”
Broaden your perspective about health and beauty. Try to Google some fine art images on the Web. Fine art collections show that a variety of bodies have been celebrated throughout the ages and in different cultures. Fine art doesn’t exist to create a need for a product, so it isn’t intended to leave you feeling inadequate or anxious.

Based on Brown University’s Health Education Body Image page, and NEDA’s20 Ways to Love Your Body by Margo Maine.