How to Deal with Body Image Issues - 7 Tips

A bad body image attack can be enough to ruin your day.  After all, you aren't really going anywhere without your body.  Here are some tips for dealing with those "body image blues"

1.  Wear comfortable clothes...that fit!!!

I cannot count the number of times that I have talked to somebody who is wearing uncomfortable, tight-fitting, constrictive clothes as a way to "motivate" themselves to lose weight.  I find that a good question to ask yourself when considering the way you treat yourself is how you would feel if a parent did this to their child.  If a parent made their child wear clothes that don't fit as a "motivation" for losing weight, you would probably be repulsed and you might even consider contacting the authorities.

In addition to which, countless studies have shown that punishment is the least effective way to create behavior change, whether you are trying to change someone else's behavior or your own.  As Susan Skye wisely said, "you cannot punish yourself into change.  You can't whip yourself into shape.  But you can love yourself into well-being".   

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2.  Do not fan the flames

Along the same lines of trying to abuse yourself into better behavior, many people think that staring in the mirror and outlining every flaw they perceive will somehow help them.  It definitely, certainly will not!  When people feel badly about themselves, they are more likely to engage in numbing behaviors such as overeating.  

Instead of standing in front of the mirror criticizing yourself, find something kind that you can sincerely say to yourself.  If that isn't available to you right now, engage in a healthy distraction such as watching a favorite movie or calling a good friend.

3.  Keep perspective about your body

This means all aspects of your body.  Think about what your body does for you throughout the day - instead of focusing only on how your legs look, focus on the fact that they work hard to carry you throughout the day.  Think about the last time your body wasn't functioning well due to sickness or injury, and take a moment to have gratitude for your health if you have it.

4.  Keep perspective about your identity

You are much more than your body.  If you can't come to terms with your body on a given day, it might be helpful to think about some of the other things that make you who you are - your humor, kindness, creativity, love of fun.   Focusing on these attributes can balance out the body image thoughts, give you a more holistic view of yourself.

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5.  Have a default outfit ready

Sometimes nothing looks or feels right because of the frame of mind you are in; instead of torturing yourself with difficult decisions when the body image attack hits, prepare yourself by choosing an outfit ahead of time that you generally feel comfortable in.  Make sure to wash it right away every times you wear it.  Then when the body image attack hits, viola!  This is your go-to.  It might help to have one ready for each type of thing you wear if you are up to it, such as one casual, one professional and one date night.

6.  Distract yourself

Sometimes just letting time pass can do a world of good.  If you are having trouble convincing yourself to feel good about your body right now, it is ok to disengage from the battle.  Read an uplifting book, watch tv or call a friend and talk about nothing in particular.

7.  Surround yourself with positive influences

You might be tempted to look to Glamour to see how to wear that scarf "just right" - but please don't forget that toxic messages from our toxic body culture will not make you feel better!  Instead, call body positive friends, read body positive blogs, and watch the movie "Embrace".  There is a world out there in which you are important because of who you are, not what size dress you wear.