Body Shaming: How to develop a positive body image
Most people feel uncomfortable about their body image, body weight, or body size at some point in their life. Sometimes, a negative body image can stop you from trying new things, hanging out with friends, and appreciating your body for everything it can do. If left unchecked, poor body image and chronic low self-esteem can contribute to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and other mental health issues.
Body image issues can affect everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. What’s more, body shaming can take a significant toll on your mental health. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, body shaming can manifest in several ways, from criticizing your own body to leaving hurtful comments on social media. Whether you’re stuck in a rut or constantly putting yourself down, here’s how to combat body dissatisfaction, boost your self-esteem, and work toward a healthier body image.
Make time for mindful self-care.
When you build mindful self-care into your daily routine, you can form a more positive relationship with your body and physical appearance. It might feel strange at first, but by practicing self-compassion and mindfulness, you can combat insecurities, promote a healthy body image, and even improve your quality of life. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
- Practice positive self-talk. To practice body-positive self-talk, find realistic affirmations that work for you. Depending on your preferences, you might start with neutral affirmations before moving to positive ones. Instead of saying, “I have the perfect body,” you might say, “My body is a gift, and it deserves love and respect.”
- Make healthy lifestyle changes. Regardless of your size, weight, or body image, eating a nourishing diet, practicing regular physical activity, and getting enough sleep can help you feel your best. There’s no wrong time to focus on your physical health and work on feeling comfortable in your skin!
Remember: It takes time to accept your limitations, overcome negative thoughts, and cultivate more positive feelings. The most important thing is to notice when negative thoughts arise and interrupt before they can take over.
Set boundaries on social media.
Research finds that social media can impact self-esteem, body satisfaction, and body image perception. In a 2018 body image research study, researchers found a correlation between social media and negative body image, especially among adolescents and young women.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to avoid images that encourage comparison. If you’re not ready for a complete social media detox, here’s how to cultivate a better body image by setting boundaries:
- Unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good. Pay attention to which accounts, people, and media images lift you. Unfollow accounts that focus on BMI, fat talk, thinness, body weight, or ideal body size. Instead, focus on content that makes you feel good.
- Find a community. Follow body-positive accounts that leave a positive influence on your body image and foster a sense of connectedness. When you follow accounts that focus on a healthy diet and healthy bodies of all sizes, you can shift your mindset about the ideal body shape.
- Set limits on your social media use. Try setting aside 10-minute blocks to scroll through social media each day and putting your phone down after.
Reach out for professional help.
Talk therapy can be a valuable resource for your mental health, whether you’re struggling with body image concerns, body dysmorphic disorder, or an eating disorder. A psychotherapist can help you identify the roots of your low self-esteem, navigate your body image issues, and start the healing process.
Above all else, it’s crucial to find someone you feel comfortable with, according to the American Psychological Association. When you trust your psychotherapist and address your insecurities in a safe space, you can reframe your mindset, identify the root of your self-esteem issues, and work toward body positivity. Ultimately, your therapist’s empathy and compassion can make all the difference in your mental health journey.
To find the right therapist, reach out to a mental health professional through The Therapy Group of NYC. We know that starting therapy can feel overwhelming, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. One of our compassionate, experienced mental health professionals will help you work toward a positive body image to become the best version of yourself.