Body image is a complex, multidimensional issue and it requires a multidimensional approach to repair. Here is a new body image activity I learnt this week to help you work towards feeling at ease and confident in your body.
Practical body image activity
The relationship between your body image and self-esteem is a powerful one.
You begin forming your perceptions of your bodies attractiveness, acceptability, and functionality in early childhood. Your body image continues to form as you age and receive feedback from family, friends, peers and society, etc.
It’s complex is because we live in a culture that first and foremost values a woman’s outer appearance, over their inner qualities. This means women will often base their self-worth on a number on the scale, the size of their clothes or what they see in the mirror.
As a consequence they feel compelled to spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to control their weight and shape, even though the research is clear. Intentional weight loss fails more than 95% of the time and ironically, leaves us heavier than when we started.
If for example, family members continually made disparaging comments about your weight and what you ate as a child. This may increase the risk of developing a deeply ingrained dissatisfaction with your body, no matter how thin you became.
Additionally, personality traits such as perfectionism and self-criticism can also influence the development of a negative body image.
There’s much we can do, but a good place to start is by critically evaluating the messages society sends us about valuing bodies.
From a young age, women aspire to Barbie-like measurements that are physiologically impossible without surgery and/or starvation.
In order for this narrative to change, you have to work really hard at it. It requires mindset changes, behaviour changes, and surrounding yourself with body positivity regularly. Sadly, you cannot think or wish your way to body acceptance.
I have seen how interventions aimed at fostering a sense of self that hinges on achievements and internal attributes, not just appearance, have helped my clients develop a more peaceful relationship with their bodies and food. Thereby, significantly improving their overall quality of life.
If you are concerned about your body image, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is my perception of beauty distorted from years of media exposure that glorifies a very thin ideal that is unrealistic for most people to obtain in a healthy manner?
- Do I find myself regularly criticising my own appearance?
With this in mind, I thought I would share with you a new body image activity that I have learnt from a mentor of mine – Marci Evans RD.
Marci describes our relationship with our bodies as “one of the MOST important relationships we attend to because we live with our bodies from birth until death”.
I’d like to invite you to do a body image activity
Step 1: Take a moment to reflect and make a list of the best relationships you have in your life. It can be with your partner, best friend, dog, colleague or anyone. But choose the one relationship you feel contains the most positive and essential aspects of a high functioning relationship.
Step 2: Identify as many characteristics that describe this relationship as possible. Try to give yourself several minutes to really reflect on this.
Step 3: Circle which of these characteristics also applies to your relationship with your body. For example, if you listed “trustworthy” in number 2, does that also apply to the relationship you have with your body?
Step 4: Underline one characteristic that doesn’t currently apply to your relationship with your body, but one that you would like it to.
Step 5: Do a practical activity to cultivate that characteristic and consider journaling about, talking about it with your counsellor, coach or a friend.
I am passionate about learning and growing in this area and hope that some of the ideas I’ve shared have been useful to you in some way! For more support to help you repair your body image take a look at my program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing here>>