We were recently hanging out with friends and began discussing how often we find ourselves comparing our physical appearances to others, and how quickly this can lead to self-deprecating conversations. Although these statements are relayed as a bit of a joke, we can all admit that there is some truth in what we are saying regarding negative feelings about our bodies. With eating disorders and depression becoming more prevalent in our society, we would like to focus this week’s post on body image, and how to promote a healthy perception and appreciation of your appearance!
Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the United States – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Our society has put a significant amount of pressure on women and men alike to always look their best, and has reflected that attractiveness is necessary in order to be successful in most aspects of life. It has been found that teachers give higher evaluations to attractive students, attractive applicants receive jobs more frequently and with better pay, and that attractive people are found guilty less often and receive less harsh punishments.
However, the question we should all be asking is…
“How is attractiveness even defined?”
Media and other public resources have standardized what is beautiful within our culture, and this ideal has become increasingly unrealistic to attain, especially for women. In fact, less than 5 percent of women can even achieve the level of thinness that our media currently idealizes.
We would like to remind you all that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that attractiveness is completely subjective. Most importantly, what we all need to remember is that this “beholder” includes, and should start with, ourselves. We are often our harshest critics, and many of us can admit to looking in the mirror and not liking what we see. While wanting to improve your body or overall appearance may not necessarily be a negative thing, it is important to ensure this desire for betterment is rooted in self-love and a healthy mindset. When you consider one of your physical traits a flaw, take a moment and reflect on why that may be. What is it about this characteristic that makes you uncomfortable? We have realized that the reasoning behind our personal dislike for certain parts of our bodies is that they do not fit our vision of what is normal, or accepted by most people. However, standardizing beauty and desiring to fit into a rigid depiction of what is attractive, established by individuals who are not at all in touch with us, is unhealthy. Not only is it unhealthy, but it is not fair to you and stifles what makes you extraordinary. Be yourself, take time to cherish what makes you different, and try to shift your mindset in a way that allows for your “flaws” to be seen as amazing uniquities. What you consider to be ugly, or something that you would like to change on your body, could very easily be something that another person admires or finds to be beautiful. While it is easy and natural to do, there is no sense in comparing yourself to others, simply because you are not them. You were intended to look the way that you do, and have evolved to be built the way that you are, in order for greater survival and a more efficient level of functioning. Your appearance has been molded by a variety of pre-existing factors, and parts of your individual journey thus far, that are entirely you. That idea alone is BEAUTIFUL. Recognize that until you are comfortable in your own skin, you will not be able to fully believe that others have accepted you as well.
Here are some tips that we have established, and also adhere to, in order to promote a healthier body image. We also have a challenge that we encourage you all to try 🙂
- Say at least 5 affirmations to yourself regarding your physical appearance each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to sleep.
- Exercise regularly! It has been shown that regular exercise boosts self-esteem and confidence.
- Do not compare yourself to others. When you find yourself getting jealous of another individual, or feeling negatively towards yourself, take a moment and breathe. Meditate on why you are feeling this way, or why you wish you looked more like the other person. If your logic is not rooted in better health for yourself, then release those destructive thoughts and replace them with thoughts about what you love about yourself.
- Dress up at least once a week, or wear something that you feel great in, and take yourself on a date! Do something that you truly enjoy, and that allows you to be entirely you.
- Eat healthily, but also do not completely restrict yourself! Indulging in foods you love can not only be therapeutic, but it can also promote a healthier mindset and relationship with food as a whole. Everything in moderation!
Set aside one weekend, or a few days during the week, to not look into the mirror. We suggest you do this when you do not have to work, or will not be in a setting where you have to portray yourself in a professional manner. We recently spent 4 days without access to a mirror, and were amazed at how wonderful it was to not have our appearance on our mind. Without that added concern and stress, you will be surprised by how much more productive and healthy your focus becomes, and how much more comfortable with yourself you are!
This exercise allows you to focus on your inner beauty,and forces you to better get to know yourself on a deeper level. Once you have done that, you will see how much your perception of your outer beauty is also improved!
We would like to end this post with one of our favorite songs, and possibly music videos, that we believe well encompasses the overall message of this post.
Please share with us any tips that you have to improve your body image! What affirmations will/do you say to yourself every day?
If you are from a country other than the United States, do you feel as though attractiveness is as heavily weighted, and what is considered beautiful within your culture?
Thank you for reading, and we hope you all take time this week to remember how beautiful you are!
Love and Light,