It can seem just about impossible to feel good about your body with all of the images that surround us. Magazine covers that feature beautiful, young, wrinkle-free women with curves in all the right places are everywhere. Even as we know that those cover images are airbrushed and that just about nobody looks that good in real life, it’s hard not to compare ourselves. And, of course, we never measure up! Media images of men can be just as unreal and painful for those who judge themselves against them.
Laying the blame for the predominance of body self-loathing solely at the feet of the media is probably not fair or accurate, however. Even if we turn off the tv, cancel all of our magazine subscriptions, put on blinders when driving past billboards, and don’t go to movies, there are still all kinds of body baggage that keeps us from loving the way we look. Perhaps it was a family member who pointed out the “baby fat” that just didn’t go away during adolescence. Or maybe past traumas have contributed to beliefs that your body is somehow damaged, spoiled, and somehow inappropriate.
Abuse can have just that effect.
Whatever the causes are for you not feeling your true beauty, this is no way to live! You cannot fully experience the joy that is abundantly possible when you feel bad about how you look. And unfortunately, the more you are aware of that crook in your nose or the bulge at your middle, the more you will feel and see that believed ugliness. How many times have you languished over your “thunder thighs” and reached for ice cream in solace?
You can turn around the negative feelings you have about your body and actually learn to love you just the way you are. In fact, the more you accept your body as is, the easier it is to treat yourself well. You may find that as you begin to see your body as more and more acceptable, exercise becomes something you look forward to rather than a chore you “have to do because you are fat.” You might also notice yourself choosing to eat 3 cookies rather than the whole box as you start seeing yourself more positively.
Try these 5 ideas to begin turning your energy toward loving your body…
1.) Gentle touches
Every single day give yourself/your body gentle touches. You might start out your morning caressing your body as a mother would her child. Allow yourself to feel how good your own loving touch feels on your skin. You could also give self-massages. This can feel especially good on tight feet, hands or arms after a long day. You may also give yourself sensual, sexual touches. This is another powerful way to love your body and yourself.
2.) Mirror, mirror
If you don’t love the way your body looks, seeing your reflection in a mirror is probably not your favorite activity. Give it a try anyway. Remember that your brain is interpreting what you “see” based on your beliefs. You can stand naked in front of a full body mirror or just focus on particular reflected parts of you. If critical thoughts enter your mind, replace them with something that you do like. Even if it is the beauty of your pinky finger, focus on that. Next time, build on the positive feelings and expand your view.
3.) Adorn yourself
Experiment by adding beautiful things to your body. If you don’t usually wear jewelry, see how it feels to put on a few bracelets or rings. You might even buy some temporary tattoos and grace your body with flowers, butterflies or images that please you. This is all to remind you that your body can be light and fun and pretty. Of course, the real beauty lies within you and not the jewelry or tattoos, but adornments can help set the mood.
4.) Be inspired
Critical judging and comparing of bodies– many of us do this. You walk down the street and cringe as you see another person who appears much more attractive and in better shape than you are. Instantly, your self-esteem plummets. If you are in the habit of noticing how others look (and lots of us are even if we don’t admit it), shift from comparing to letting yourself be inspired. Appreciate the beauty you see in others and know that, ultimately, it is a reflection of your own beauty.
5.) Say “I Love You”
Perhaps the three most life-changing words you can say to another person and, especially, yourself are “I love you.” When you begin to fixate on how awful your hair looks or the clumsy way you walk, replace those thoughts with a simple “I love you.” If you choose to make changes in your hair, walk, or anything else, come from a place of “I love you” and not self-degradation. Pay attention to how it feels when you regularly say this magical phrase to yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you weigh hundreds of pounds more than you “should” or if you have a so-called deformity that cannot be altered. You can love your body and feel great about yourself the way you are. Be easy with yourself. Explore what you like about your body and allow feelings of love and approval expand out.