Like it or not, we live in an increasingly superficial society. This means that body image is a major predictor of emotional well-being. People with a poor body image are much more likely to suffer low self-esteem and depression, even though appearance ultimately means little to nothing about who a person is.
This problem is compounded by the images we see each day. Photoshopped models, waifish celebrities, and people plastered on billboards may not even look like the image you see! Make-up, plastic surgery, and endless editing all conspire to present a truly unrealistic and unattainable image of beauty. Of course, when you’re feeling terrible about your body, this is little comfort. If you’re struggling with body image, here are five simple steps you can take right now to feel better.
Focus on Function, Not Form
Your body serves a purpose, and that purpose is so much more than conforming to society’s standards. Rather than trying to lose weight or look a certain way, focus on what your body can do. Embrace the strength of your legs, or the ability of your arms to carry your child. Then set goals for your body that have nothing to do with your appearance. When you see your body as more than just a decorative object, achieving your goals becomes more satisfying and you may just find you love your body a bit more.
Take a Media Break
Research consistently shows that the media makes people feel worse about themselves. Fashion magazines were particularly damaging to body image. Take a media break insofar as you can. Block ads on social media pages. Stop reading fashion magazines. Pre-record television programs so you can fast-forward through the commercials. When you’re not exposed to an unrealistic beauty image, you are far less likely to aspire to it.
Keep a Compliment Log
We all get compliments from time to time, and we all occasionally have positive thoughts about our appearance. You deserve to benefit from these positive experiences! Begin maintaining a log of the compliments you receive, as well as any positive thoughts you have about your body. Then refer to it when you struggle with your self-esteem. People with a poor body image often think that others are judging them. Seeing that other people think only positive things about you can help pull you out of a negative thought cycle.
Cultivate Your Other Talents
Our culture gets things backwards. Your appearance is less important than everything else about who you are. Unfortunately, many people fixate on their appearance when they feel bad about other aspects of themselves, such as their careers and relationships. Three Seas Counselling can help you address these issues, but there’s something else you can do on your own. Focus on honing your other talents. Take a painting class or write that novel you’ve always wanted to author. Mastering challenges other than weight-loss and luscious hair put you back in touch with what matters and can help body image seem like a trivial and distant concern.