Having a more positive perception of your body requires intentional action. Here are 3 ways to reinforce the environment you need to make a lasting change.
For those who struggle with disordered eating, having a positive body image may be the last piece of the puzzle before you will ever feel complete. It is one thing to change your behaviors and make physical, calculated choices towards recovery, such as eating balanced meals and stop stepping on the scales.
However, it’s something entirely different to try and shift an attitude – an identity. Body image is deeply ingrained, and we unfortunately live in a culture where it’s encouraged and glamorized to want to change your appearance and make it as “perfect” as possible.
Here are 3 ways that will help you build a better body image:
1. Buy Clothes That Fit.
Do you wake up in the morning and spend a significant amount of time trying to find something to wear that you feel comfortable in? For those who are overcoming restrictive eating patterns, your body will take a different shape. Much of the clothing you have may no longer fit or you may find it extremely uncomfortable. It can even become frustrating and disappointing to wake up everyday and be faced with a closet that seemed to remind you that your body was no longer “good enough” to wear your old clothes.
Make the decision that your clothes no longer fit the new, healthier body you have now, and it’s time to buy new clothes. After all, there’s no reason to believe a different size in clothing indicated you are less attractive or valued. A size of clothing is just a numeric indication for the type of clothing to fit different body types – nothing more. Buy clothing that gives your body room to adapt and settle.
2. Purge Your Social Media.
Take a closer look at your social media feeds. If you’ve been obsessed with the idea of a “perfect body” and followed many different social media accounts that focused on developing a “perfect body.”, it’s time to stop following them for good.
There’s no more place for photos of women in before and after photos, fitness models in perfect poses and “thinspiration” quotes dictating you. In deciding which accounts are the worst offenders, ask yourself:
“How does this image make me feel? Does it make me feel better about myself? Or worse? Does it make me feel like I should change something? Does it make me feel ashamed or like a failure?”
If any of those questions were met with a yes answer, hit delete.
Rather, start following accounts that reward and make you feel good about your body and your disordered eating recovery. Follow hashtags such as #bodypositive, #bodypositivity, #bodylove and #bodykindness. The associated accounts often published posts that are inclusive of all body types with encouraging reminders that help you overcome negative self-talk.
3. Remember This Single Sentence – You are not more valuable for taking up less space.
When people place so much value on their body sizes, they are likely missing out on life because they’re waiting for a body that may never be theirs. Understand, realize, and accept that biology will take its course. Your body will grow older and will probably change shapes many times throughout your life.
Do you want to be 70-years-old and still worried about trying to look how you were when you were 20? Your value is not based on the size of your body, but rather the experiences you have and the people you connect with. What will you will look back and regret: not achieving the “perfect body”, or spending enough time with those you love? It’s time to start valuing and celebrating bodies for our variety and uniqueness.
Only then, can you begin accepting yourself.
HEADER IMAGE: KRISTINA PAUKSHTITE
Amber Madden, MA, LPCA is a Kentucky-based licensed mental health counselor specializing in treating eating disorders. As the creator of “Beat the Binge”, a 6-week online program, she helps individuals tackle their food rules and break free from the struggles of disordered eating, binge eating, and emotional eating. Learn more about Amber at Bloom Nutrition Therapy.