Empowering Discussions

“How to Achieve a Better Body Image”

How to Achieve a Better Body Image

By Rae Lawrence

As humans, we all have the tendency to fall prey to struggling with body image.  However, there are ways to overcome this trap and re-learn self love and self acceptance.

  1. Stop avoiding your body

    We know that one way to maintain negative body image is to avoid your body. So, in order to break this cycle, stop the avoidance! Face up to your body and get to know it, lumps, bumps and all. Get used to being with your body. If you usually avoid mirrors, start approaching them. Look at yourself as a whole person – don’t just focus on the bits you don’t like. Try to spend more time naked. Walk around the house nude! Practice touching your body: a good way to do this is to buy some nice moisturizer and rub it all over. Try other activities that you would normally avoid: go to the beach, go clothes shopping, go belly dancing! The more you do to get in contact with and accept your body the way that it is, the more you are likely to develop better body image.

  2. Stop checking

    Some people check rather than avoid, which also perpetuates negative body image. Checking is when people repeatedly check their bodies for evidence of continuing “disgustingness”. A person might study their body in the mirror for hours at a time, or pinch their sides to check on the “fat”. Write a list of your “checking” behaviors. Once you have recognized what you are doing, make a point of refusing to check, or try to cut down. If you have “pinch the fat on my stomach” on your list, and you notice you are doing this 20 times a day, aim to cut down to 15 times, then 10, then five … then stop!

  3. Stop comparing

    One form of “checking” behavior is comparison. This is when you constantly compare your physical attributes to those of other people. It can be challenging to stop negatively comparing yourself to others: for many people, it’s such a habit it is automatic and happens hundreds of times a day. Try to notice when you compare yourself to others and make a note of when you compare, who you compare yourself to, and what you say to yourself when it happens. Is it fair? Is it realistic? What effect does it have on how you feel about yourself? What can you say that may be more helpful?

  4. Check out your assumptions

    People sometimes interpret normal, everyday things as evidence of their “fatness”. For example, a lot of women think that if their thighs or stomachs wobble, this means they are “fat”. In actual fact, wobbliness is a normal female characteristic. We’re made to wobble! For other women, the normal fluid retention that happens when they are premenstrual can be viewed as a “sign” that they are putting on weight. Try to notice what you are assuming to be evidence of “fat”, and look for the facts. This may mean doing a Google search, discussing your assumptions with friends and family, or even asking your GP.

  5. Separate feeling bad from feeling fat

    When you have weight or body image issues, it can be hard to separate feelings from how you feel about your body. For example, if you have a stressful day at work, a fight with your partner and get a parking ticket, you start to feel bad. You may then start to also feel “fat” and unattractive. If you start to feel this way, ask yourself what has triggered this feeling. Try to identify the real issue, and separate it from your body-image issues. Another common experience is for people to feel “fat” after they have eaten. In this instance the trigger is body image-related. When this happens, remind yourself that your weight and appearance was the same before this feeling hit. So, though you may feel different, your weight hasn’t changed.

  6. Practice self acceptance

    Having a negative bod image is like having a critic in your head. The critic is a harsh, derogatory narrative that makes nasty comments about you. For example, “I look disgusting in this outfit” or “I can’t believe how fat I am”. The critic makes you feel awful, because you believe it. Because you feel terrible about yourself, you look for ways to feel better. You may eat something, which gives momentary pleasure, but minutes later the critic is back to comment on how much of a pig you are for eating. The big key to changing negative body image is to kill the critic, and learn self-acceptance. This means accepting yourself as you are. Cognitive techniques are very effective in helping identify and change critical thinking. It can take time, but it’s worth it!

Check out more of Rae Lawrence’s work at http://raelawrence85.wixsite.com/raeacrossamerica & https://www.facebook.com/RaeAcrossAmerica.

Rae is currently a 3rd year doctoral student where she is studying psychology. She aspires to work in the field of forensics. Rae suffered from an eating disorder for 10 years and has been in recovery for nearly 5 years. She finds that she feels her best when she is helping others.

As a result of this, she has created a non-profit organization, Rae Across America, where she creates and hosts several fundraisers per year which raise money to help send individuals in need to eating disorder treatment. Rae and her husband, Ryan, live in Richland, Washington. Together they enjoy hiking, watching football, spending time with their children, visiting family, and traveling.


I’m an artist and writer on a mission to bring healing arts into the mainstream. If you would like to support my heart work, please consider becoming a monthly patron on Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, you can fund programs like my D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression E-course, my monthly “Radical” e-zine and other creative healing projects, like “Cultivating Radical Self-Love: A Collaboration of Healers, Artists & Writers“.

Empowering Discussions

Do We Still Need to Talk About Unrealistic Beauty Standards?

The answer of course is yes. As long as the media continues to assault us with unhealthy images of “ideal” beauty standards we need to talk about it. As more advertisements, celebrity photos and selfies become digitally altered and women continue to be used as props in demeaning advertisements it is important we keep this conversation going.  Below is a collection of quotes from recent articles blasting unrealistic beauty standards and supporting self-love.

If I accepted the cultural construct of beauty ideals, I would never go out in public. Supermodels are airbrushed to sell shit, and I don’t need any more shit. I believe the sooner we create a new cultural construct, one of self-acceptance, the sooner we can all get on with making more important discoveries than age-defying breakthroughs.”    http://honiebriggs.com/2014/11/18/why-struggle-to-fit-in-when-theres-so-much-more-leg-room-out-here-2/

 

“There’s nothing wrong with celebrating beauty or black culture distinguishing itself by celebrating our own outlook. But it is important that in our conversations and perspectives about beauty, we make room to be inclusive of many shapes, sizes and curves-even those without them.”  http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/02/black_beauty_standards_just_as_unhealthy_as_white_ones.html

 

“Today, men and women of all ages are pressured by the media, by their families, and by their coaches or friends to work harder or diet more to lose weight. Everyone wants the cultural ideal body. We must realize that every body type is ideal because it is unique and fit for one person.”  http://thehighlanderpaper.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-body-image-the-evolution-of-unrealistic-and-unhealthy-standards-of-beauty/

 

“It’s almost impossible to mention weight discrimination without discussing gender discrimination. The media bombards us with retouched images of rail-thin women and beefy men, neither of which are the norm in society at large. Unfortunately, the idolization of underweight women feeds the false perception that the Kiera Knightley body type (with larger breasts via Photoshop, of course) is both the norm and the ideal. As a result, average-weight women are severely penalized for their failure to live up to that unrealistic standard.”  http://www.adiosbarbie.com/2014/12/skinny-women-fat-paychecks-weight-discrimination-in-the-office/#sthash.Inpii9WS.dpuf

 

“So, while society dictates what is attractive, you can let society know that you are beautiful, even if you don’t look like what is expected. The only ideal beauty that matters is inner beauty. True beauty starts with loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. Be good to yourself and other people around. We are all unique, and each of us has our preferences. You cannot please everyone, so be content with how you look. It doesn’t matter what your gender, skin color or weight is. As long as you love and accept what you see in the mirror, that’s good enough.”  http://fiusm.com/2014/03/23/the-only-ideal-of-beauty-that-matters

 

“Journalist Priscilla Yuki Wilson, who is half-Japanese and half-black, sent a photo of herself to editors in various countries across the world in a bid to see how they would use Photoshop to make it beautiful according to their cultural standards. She found that in contrast to similar projects in the past that have resulted in a huge variety of changes, people seemed to be at a loss as to how to improve her unique face.”   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2749352/What-biracial-beauty-Half-Japanese-half-black-woman-Photoshopped-different-countries-mixed-backgrounds-not-fit-conventional-standards.html

 

“The world is full of people hating themselves for their defects and flaws. Being in my own recovery I have found out that I should never feel ashamed about myself.”  http://selflovewarrior.com/2014/07/15/you-deserve-self-love/

 

What if we honestly talked about beauty standards? BuzzFeed does a spot on video of just how ridiculous we would sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dufSoE1BS_I

 

So what can those of us who aren’t part of a media franchise do to create change? We can pressure companies to use unaltered images in their marketing, we can stop obsessing over our own bodies and stop buying into every new makeup trend. If you’re really serious stop buying fashion magazines and visiting sites that are full of demeaning ads. When we no longer buy into unrealistic beauty standards than businesses will change thier approach. We are each a part of this society and we can choose how to shape it.

Don’t think we can change the media? Check out the following success stories 

“Victoria Secret listened to the public and made a positive change, although we received no apology or statement. This is still an incredible achievement! We are overjoyed. Thank you so much to every single person that signed this petition, shared it and helped the spread the message of our campaign! Let’s hope advertisers get the message that body-shaming is never ok!”  https://www.change.org/p/victoriassecret-apologise-for-your-damaging-perfect-body-campaign-iamperfect/u/8749266

“Finally, Washington DC is doing something about the link between photoshopped images in advertising and how people – in particular girls and women – feel about themselves. But to really drive the change we’re after, the policy-based approach needs to be strengthened by grassroots support. That’s how you can help us win this battle.”  http://www.bravegirlswant.com/truth-in-ads.html 

 

“The viral photos sparked a body image debate that was made up of expected fat shaming as well as praise for acknowledging real women’s bodies. There was also shock, however, as to why featuring a size 10 mannequin was even controversy-worthy. “Why is this such a big deal,” Refinery 29 asked. “…The fact that the installation is larger mannequins in a “regular” store is so controversial seems ridiculous.” http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/01/21/if-these-dolls-could-talk-how-mannequins-are-changing-the-way-we-talk-about-female-beauty/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8umFV69fNg

 

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