Build a Body Image Shield

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If you live in today’s world, there is a good chance that you feel insecure about your body.  Every day, we are exposed to hundreds of digitally-enhanced images of unattainably perfect bodies.  Without realizing it, we compare ourselves to these images, and take in the message that our bodies are not good enough.  However, it is possible to respect and appreciate your unique body.  The secret is to protect yourself from society’s damaging messages by building a Body Image Shield.  Here’s how…

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1. Flex your critical awareness muscles.

Every time you see a person on a billboard or in a magazine with a ‘perfect body,’ remind yourself that it’s not real.  It’s a photoshopped image, and even the models don’t resemble that picture in real life.  Don’t believe me?  Watch this video:

Also remind yourself that images like this are designed to make you feel badly about your body, so that you will buy their product in order to ‘improve’ your looks.  And get angry about it, because that’s not playing nice.

Finally, remind yourself: To compare is to despair.  You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else (real or fake), because you are beautiful exactly as you are.

Body Diversity

2. Learn to appreciate body diversity.

When you see hundreds of images each day that represent such a narrow image of beauty, it’s no wonder that you may start to think there is something wrong with your own body.  The solution?  Look at a greater variety of bodies.

Here are some suggestions:

More on this idea from Lillian Bustle:

bad body talk
3. Ban ‘bad body’ talk from your vocabulary.

Bad body talk.  You know what it is…

“I hate my <insert body part>.”

How do you feel when you speak to your body this way?  Awful?  Yeah, me too.  It’s time to chase away that negative voice in your head that says mean things about your body.  When you catch yourself thinking this way, practice mindfulness:

  1. Notice that it’s happening.
  2. Gently remind yourself that speaking to yourself in this way isn’t helpful and it makes you feel badly.
  3. Replace the negative thought with one that is positive (or at least neutral) and appreciative.

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4. Practice gratitude and self-compassion.

“Every body is a physical miracle… and gratitude a healing force.” – Connie Sobczak, author of Embody

Your lungs breathe 30,000 times each day.  Your heart beats 100,000 times each day.  Your immune system works 24/7 to fight off germs that could make you sick.

Your body is truly extraordinary.

When you start to appreciate all the things your body does for you, it becomes easier to treat it with love and kindness.

“Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.” – Dr. Kristin Neff

Practicing self-compassion can also help cultivate a healthy body image.

Body positive

TheBodyPositive.com; Photo credit: larrydyer.com

5. Join a body positive community.

Surround yourself with people who respect and appreciate their bodies, and you just might start to like your body, too.

Here are some ideas:

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Credit: BeMagazine.org

6. Change the world, not yourself.

Building a body image shield is a radical act that can change the world.  When you respect your body, you:

  • Negate ads that use body shame to sell products.
  • Free up time spent worrying about your body to do meaningful activities.
  • Inspire others to love and honor their bodies, too.

If enough people make peace with their bodies, then someday we won’t need body image shields to feel good about ourselves.

Jes Baker explains:


Learn more.

Books:

Videos:

Websites:

4 responses to “Build a Body Image Shield

  1. Thank you. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a registered dietitian, too, and it makes my heart smile to hear this coming from a peer. I don’t think enough of us are vocal enough about body positivity! Again… thank you. 🙂

  2. I love this post so much. And thank you for the mention – I’m honored!

  3. Hi Nicole! I love this post! I’d like to reproduce it into a handout with credits to your name and blog of course. Can I do that? This fits perfectly with our Body Positive Week messages at SPU! 🙂

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