BODY IMAGE was (and sometimes still is) one of my biggest battles. For some reason my confidence, self-esteem, and worth were linked so closely to what my body looks like – which I believe is a result of society and culture. It’s so easy to preach that you are more than your weight, you are more than a number on a scale or a size on a pair of jeans. But also, living in this world and society, it’s consistently preached that we should strive to be thinner, smaller, more “healthy”…so how could I not care about my body image or let it determine my confidence level. How could the bad body image days not affect me on an emotional level?
Here are a few things that have helped me through recovery to realize that body image is not the end all be all. It is not what we should base our self worth in, or base anything in for that matter.
- First off, it is important to realize that body IMAGE is just that – it’s an IMAGE. It changes minute to minute, outfit to outfit, environment to environment. You can feel completely confident in a dress on a Wednesday, and then you can try it on again on Saturday and fell like it looks completely different. But that is just how it LOOKS – this is not the reality. REALITY is that your body IMAGE may change, but your BODY does not. It takes a significant amount of time for our body shape and size to truly change in a noticeable way. Constantly reminding myself that an image is not the TRUTH has been so helpful to reducing the importance I place on my daily body image.
- Secondly, would you ever determine the worth of your friends based on their body image, their weight, the size on their jeans? HECK NO – You choose and love my friends and family based on their loving, caring and beautiful personalities, the way they treat you, their hobbies and interests. And Vice versa, their confidence in you, their support for you, the reasons they love you are not based on your body image, my size, or my weight.
If I can put a higher priority on these other attributes of my friends and family, then I should certainly do the same for myself. And so can YOU! There are so many more important things to love about ourselves, there are so many more traits that we have that make me WORTHY and LOVEABLE. Separating body image from worthiness is so important to fully recover and to be set free from living with an ED. I urge you to make a list of your own attributes that should be ranked way higher than body image and focus on those!
And here are just a few other things that I do to help me through those tougher body image days:
- Avoid mirrors – why make it harder on yourself. Try to stay away from mirrors, especially full length, so that you don’t have as much of an opportunity to nit pick the parts of your body that are troubling you. This also lowers the opportunity for body checking.
- Wear comfy clothes, maybe even oversized. I often like to put on loose comfy clothes on bad body image days. Looser fitting clothes allow me to focus on things other than how tight my jeans are, or how cropped my shirt is. Basically, comfier clothes take the focus away from my body.
- Distract yourself! With literally ANYTHING! Your favorite hobbies will come in handy on days like this. Wether its reading, baking, walking, journaling, etc, find something that will help take your mind off of how you feel about your body that day.
- Journal! Sometimes it helps to just get our feelings out of our heads and on paper. Usually this looks like a mind dump for me – nothing formal and no prompt required. Just write what you feel, and that could help you move past those negative feelings quicker.
- Find an Affirmation. and REPEAT it! over and over again, until you believe it. A lot of Ed recovery, and healing our relationship with our body in general, is positive self talk. Make sure you are speaking to yourself, and about your body, in a loving, respectful and appreciative way.
So next time you’re struggling with body image, I suggest you take a step back. Remind yourself it is temporary, it is not permanent. Remind yourself it does NOT determine your value or importance. It honestly holds no weight and no bearing on anything. The more you realize this, the more confident you can be despite what body image comes out to play today.