Body Image

How to Love Your Body

Love is more than just a feeling. While it is important to have positive feelings towards your body, it is even better to take it a step further and put those feelings into action. If you have a hard time “feeling the love” for your body, taking steps towards acting in a way that is loving and respectful towards your body can help you get there. When you start taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, it gets easier to start appreciating your body on a new level.

One of the keys to a healthy relationship is good listening skills. When it comes to having a healthy relationship with your body, listening is top priority. You need to be tuned into your body’s feedback if you want to take care of it. Paying attention to your body’s needs and how it responds, you also learn to cooperate with your body and stop viewing it as the enemy who is out to get you. Most of us have been battling our bodies for as long as we can remember. It’s time to call a truce and let your body bring some valuable information to the table. You might be surprised at what it has to say.

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Body Image

The Filter in our Minds

Our minds have a filter but sometimes that filter does not work so well and it filters out all the good stuff and it lets all the bad stuff run loose. Body hate often stems from not seeing the bigger picture. We see things through a negative filter that blocks out the positive aspects of a situation. When that happens, all the negative stuff feels ten times worse because there is no positive point of view to balance it out. We only notice our flaws, our weak points and shortcomings but we do not see the good. Any positive aspects of ourselves are discounted.

  • “Who cares if i got the promotion, someone had to fill the spot. It does not mean i am special or good at my job and it does not change the fact that i look old and dress ugly”
  • “He said i look pretty today but he probably just said it because he realised that i was moody, he did not mean it”

It might seem silly to some but these thoughts occur on a daily basis and have negative effects on self esteem. A negative thought filter means that what we think about ourselves and what we assume others think of us is not necessarily realistic. It is usually charged with negative emotion and a history of body hate or self hate. However, we can change these filters, with practice you can learn to assess your body and situations from a balanced perspective that looks at both sides of the issue, instead of just assuming the worst; the positive can also outweigh the negative.

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Body Image

World Wide Web of Body Hate

  • Put people behind the safety of a computer screen and all of a sudden, they feel free to let loose every cruel and insensitive remark imaginable – especially in the case of appearance. Body hate is everywhere on the web; all over forums, blogs and social media sites. There are thousands of groups online that foster body obsession. There are forums devoted to acne cures, plastic surgery, fad diets, extreme exercise and about any other body related topic. All of them encourage commiserating over our flaws and going down endless rabbit holes trying to ‘fix’ our bodies. The truth is, these groups only serve to trigger our insecurities and make our problems seem bigger than they really are. They also show us that body hate is normal and acceptable. This is not a problem for everyone but it is important to think about how our online relationships are affecting our lives.
  • Ask yourself:
    • Do you feel better or worse after visiting sites or groups that frequently discuss body issues, appearance, dieting or exercise?
      Do you come away feeling more at peace or more anxious about the way you look?
  • Not all web sites foster body hate, some encourage positive body image but be sure you know which ones you get involved in. It can make a difference in banishing ugly body thoughts.
  • However in my experience social media such as facebook and instagram might be the biggest body hate influencers to date, as people are constantly leaving negative comments, allowing us to feel vulnerable and feel ugly or ashamed of what we look like. It is easy to say ‘oh just ignore the comments’ or ‘you should not care what others say’ but in reality it hits you hard therefore it is important to stand together and support each other.
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    Stop Ugly Body Talk

    Once those ugly body thoughts are in our heads, we tend to talk about them either to ourselves, friends or family, we also do not realise how much body bashing ourselves can effect us when talking about it but it does. Body hate is usually perceived as normal but it does not have to be. Sometimes we relish in a good body bashing session with our friends; it is good to let it out with people you feel close to. However, we do not even realise how much body hate has become the centre of attention of our conversations. Point is, we all want to relate to one another and body hate is a subject most of us have personal experience with. Ugly body talk is not necessarily the best way to go about it, start observing the conversations you have with your friends or family and see how much you really talk about your appearance in a negative way. It might not seem so negative at first, maybe you say it jokingly but we both know it touches a soft spot.

    Your imperfections are not the sum of who you are but constantly talking about your flaws gives them more power than they deserve. However an honest discussion about the alternatives to body hate can take the conversation in a much more meaningful and positive direction.

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    Body Image

    Detecting Ugly Body Thoughts

    You should simply recognise when you are experiencing ugly body thoughts; tune into what you say to yourself about your body and think about what triggers those negative body thoughts. When you encounter the ugly body thoughts, you have to fight back. Body hate is often fuelled by emotional assumptions and distorted thinking. You have to unravel this web of thinking by questioning whether these thoughts are legitimate. Ask yourself:

    Does this thought represent reality?

    Am I thinking in extremes or blowing something out of proportion?

    Is there another way to look at this?

    Could I do something to improve the way I feel right now?

    Here is an example of how to encounter those ugly body thoughts –

    Ugly Thought

    ‘I can’t stand looking at myself today, look at that muffin top! I feel gross!

    Look at it this way instead

    ‘Maybe I am not thrilled with the way my stomach looks right now. I guess it does not help that I am wearing low cut pants that do not sit right on my body. Besides, even if my stomach does not look the way I want it to, that does not make me gross – it just means I am a person with imperfections just like others. However I do have nice legs and maybe I will wear that dress that shows off my legs instead.’

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    STOP BODY BASHING

    Sometimes we get fooled into thinking something is okay just because it seems to be normal, but normal is not good enough. We have to examine thoughts and behaviours that may be considered normal and ask ourselves: Does this serve a positive function in my life? When it comes to body bashing (a harsh, prejudicial attack on a person), the answer is NO! Body bashing could not be more normal; it is not only accepted in our culture but it is also encouraged. Sometimes it is the only way we know how to relate to our physical bodies or primary way we bond with friends and family. That does not change the fact that body bashing is completely wrong. Body bashing starts in our heads, the ugly body thoughts are so pervasive and habitual that we often do not realise how mean and cruel we are to our bodies. Many of us say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to a friend or even a stranger, and somehow we think it is okay to treat ourselves this way, to deem ourselves unworthy. When your thoughts are constantly filled with ugly body talk, it will be difficult to develop a positive attitude towards yourself and your life.

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    Body Image

    THERE IS NO PERFECT

    Letting go of body hate is far from possible if we are continuously convinced that if we try hard enough, we could make our imperfections disappear. We need to break free from the false idea that perfection actually exists and accept that everybody has an imperfection about them. We buy into the myth that skin creams and diet pills can give us a perfect body because it is everywhere; ads on the internet, pictures in magazines, movies on the big screens, protein supplement labels – the perfect body is plastered all around us. The perfect body is a hypothetical idea, it is dreamed up and then brought to life but don’t be fooled. All media images and messages are constructions, they are not reflections of reality and they have been carefully crafted with the intent to send a very specific message. Perfection is an illusion that seems nice on the surface but it just is not reality. Anyone who goes through life expecting perfection from their body or anything else is bound to be disappointed.

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