Are we supposed to feel positive about our bodies? We receive so many messages from the media, peers and our family and friends that belittle different bodies types and or perpetuate an unrealistic ideal or standard.
We are often compared to an impossible perfection that exists only in the world of Photoshop and modeling agencies.
We are surrounded by fat-shaming on our favorite television shows, the thin-ideal on magazine covers, powerful messages from the diet industry, judgment of others based on their sizes and shape and our own inner critic.
Don’t believe the hype. In reality, our bodies do a lot for us. Take a moment to think about how your body has served you today.
Your body helps you travel where you want to go. It helps you access information by reading, listening or watching. Your body connects you to the environment so you can feel the warmth of sunshine or the wetness of raindrops. Your body helps you communicate with others through talking, writing, drawing, or hugs. Your body holds you up. It breathes for you and regulates your temperature, circulates your blood and tells you if you are hurt. You can rest and sleep to restore your energy and overall health.
Though everyone’s body differs in levels of development, ability and skill, your body is amazing.
You are unique and special and deserve to be appreciated and loved just the way you are.
It can be helpful to intentionally focus on what you appreciate about your body each day.
Set a reminder in your phone or put a note on your mirror or wall to help you get into the habit of loving your own body.
This is your body, the only one you will have for your entire life. Take good care of it by considering the following.
Am I getting adequate sleep and rest? Do I eat a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables? How do I strengthen and help my body? Am I listening to what my body needs or tells me?
How else can you build body positivity? Try to limit exposure to media that tells you your appearance is inadequate.
Try to feed yourself when you are hungry. Try to be attentive to how different foods taste and how they make you feel. Try to honor your body’s signals of fullness.
Experiment with enjoyable ways to move your body. Look kindly at your body and treat it with love and respect.
Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to unlearn old negative thoughts and habits. Changing how you feel about your body takes time, practice and support.
When we do not like our bodies, we tend not to take good care of it. Negative body image is linked to poor overall life quality.
Often we feel that if only we looked a certain way or were a certain size, then everything else would fall into place.
Sometimes it can be helpful to instead directly address areas of your life with which you are unhappy and want to change.
If you struggle with embracing a positive body image, it may be helpful to connect with The Body Project, a body acceptance group coming to campus in April through Campus Wellness and the Counseling Center, or talk with a therapist at the Student Counseling Center.
You do not have to struggle alone and recovery is possible.
For further reading, check out these websites: www.thebodypositive.org/ and www.haescommunity.com/