Body Image Problems? Get Body Confident
Beach season is upon us. This is the time of year where body image problems really come to the surface. The warm weather brings less fabric and more of our bodies are revealed. Bathing suits and sundresses are the catalysts for packed gyms and portion control and if one is not careful, possible eating disordered behavior. In the past, I worked as a therapist in an outpatient eating disorder treatment center and late spring was our busiest season. As you can imagine, insecurity, lack of confidence and body dissatisfaction were triggered as the summer months approached. So what can you do to get body confident?
Men Have Body Image Problems Too
Women aren't the only ones facing discomfort with their size and shape. A survey from FITNESS Magazine and Yahoo! Shine revealed that men too often overestimate their bodies as too heavy, or not fit enough, leading to unpleasant thoughts about themselves and their bodies.
Everyone’s level of body discomfort varies. Some individuals go to extremes engaging in unhealthy and often life-threatening behaviors to achieve their body image “ideal”. While others may become introverted, depressed, and avoidant. If this is the case, therapy and possible hospitalization may be needed. However, the tools and skills I am going to share with you can be helpful to anyone who is willing to turn their mind to a more body-loving place. Many of my clients, including those in treatment, have given me a “thumbs up” to these skills. Although they may not “fix” the root cause, they can help you get more confident in the moment, which can lead the way to more body satisfaction and self-acceptance.
5 Techniques for Better Body Confidence
1. Get Media Savvy. When we educate ourselves on the media’s tactics, we become much more aware and sometimes even angry consumers. Advertising and marketing tactics can be subconscious triggers for body bashing. Attempting to look like a model or actor is often unobtainable because they don’t even look like the pictures we are exposed to thanks to computer tactics and lighting (aka PhotoShop). Article and product placement, both on TV or in magazines, undergo massive strategic placement in order to make us vulnerable. When we are triggered by an ideal, we are more likely to buy a product in close correlation (next page of the magazine, etc).
Media awareness is invaluable. In fact, many of my clients have stopped buying media that is triggering. It's helped them to see that they were striving towards a false ideal. I suggest looking at the Dove Foundation or Jean Kilbourne’s work on media awareness. Kilboune has been well received by many of the clients and workshops I have led.
Tip: When you read a magazine or watch a TV show, rate your self-esteem before and after. Notice the way the characters or the advertisements make you feel.
2. Ready to Wear. Allison, one of my clients said that she picks out her outfit the night before so she isn’t late or do body checking or negative self-talk. “I have a few go-to outfits that make me feel confident. It also helps me to send a picture to a friend or family member if I am feeling insecure to get their opinion.”
Tip: Make sure this person is a supportive and honest part of your life.
3. Work on Confident Posture. When we stand up straight, walk with assurance, and avoid slumping at our desks, our body really does look more confident. In fact, it makes us look leaner. When we are feeling insecure, our bodies naturally hunch. We lean our shoulders inward and look down rather than ahead. Try to model confident posture whenever you notice you feel insecure.
Tip: Mindfully sit in your chair or walk for 30 seconds with confident posture and notice the difference.
4. Workout. Don’t hit the gym like a maniac or push yourself into a cardio coma. Seriously, these will keep you from achieving any body image or health goal as you're likely to injure yourself. Look for a goal outside your appearance. Focus on your health or doing exercise for a cause. For example, running a 5K for charity or gaining strength to mow the lawn without losing your breath.
Tip: Stretching or short exercise spurts can boost your mood and confidence level. During commercials or if you’ve only got a few minutes, do an ab workout or yoga postures.
5. Affirmations. It may sound "new-agey", however affirmations have been proven to be effective if we look and read over them every day with the willingness to believe them. When you add in how it would feel to “love your body” or even one body part, your body begins to believe it. Starting small, with one body part you do appreciate, will help this process.
Tip: Affirmation Examples
I approve of my body exactly the way it is
I love my body and all of its parts
My body is healthy and strong
I am grateful to have a strong and healthy _______ (pick a body part)
Add your body confident ideas below. The warm months are upon us so get outside, grab some Vitamin D, and build up your relationship with your body.
Take Good Care.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Roberts, E. (2013, May 15). Body Image Problems? Get Body Confident, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2013/05/get-body-confident
Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Hi Emily! I am a man and I struggle with "coveting, comparing, competition" as my counselor puts it...and says this is a recipe for depression... My struggle comes from insecurities rooting from ladies who have been doing workouts longer have more muscular endurance and sometimes strength. I am amazed in one regard but then when I compare, its no good. Rather than appreciating a solid workout, I get insecure when the instructor (female) out works me...especially core and endurance where it feels she is light years ahead as far as fitness....I am trying to be thankful for where I am at and look forward to where I will be one day if I stay consistent. My body is lean and muscular, but I am amazed that my larger muscles don't have enough endurance as hers...and I desire to get there...so my goal is to be more grateful and stop comparing... Thanks so much for your article...and I appreciate if you can relate and let me know how to break this habit. I am a Christian too, so I am starting to do more bible study to encourage my self with His Word...thanks!
What an important and valuable article!
Great work Michelle! I love it! I like to start out my day with I am powerful and strong. Or my body is powerful and strong. Sometimes when walking I do a mindfulness exercise and notice all the parts of my body I am grateful for in that moment.
Take Good Care!
Well written article and oh so true. I know for myself that over the years I have not been happy with my body. I have always been thin, but could find something wrong with the way I looked. Now I find that I start my day out with the positive thought of I am thin, I look good. I set my intention and positive thoughts then flow.