Body image is something that everyone has. And I feel like we’re talking more and more about it with the Body Positive and Fat Acceptance movements. But I’m also not sure that everyone really understands what it is, especially when we are talking about positive body image. So, let’s dive in to the topic with a few definitions and then some tips for cultivating a positive body image.
What is body image?
First off, what does this term mean to you? How would you describe or defin it?
For me, body image is, quite simply, how we see (or perceive) and feel about our bodies.
What influences our body image?
Body image is influenced primarily by the culture we live in and the beauty standards that are upheld by the fashion industry and in social media. Our body image is also impacted by the people we care about (family and friends) and how important physical appearance is to them.
What does a positive body image look like?
Having a positive body image does not mean loving everything about your body, all the time. Nope! Having a positive body image looks more like being aware of how you perceive and feel about your body and ACCEPTING that. It’s recognizing that your worth does not come from your appearance but rather that your value is intrinsic (just for being alive) and that people love you for who you are (all of who you are), and that you can too.
At the end of the day, a positive body image translates into spending less time thinking about what your body looks like and spending more time thinking about what your body can do (and how it feels to do all those things!).
So, how to get to a place like that? Here are a few tips.
How can I cultivate a more positive body image?
- Take time to look at yourself as a whole person. You are so much more than what you look like, so much more than a body. Looking at yourself as a whole person requires recognizing your physical traits (and which parts of your body you like and/or are grateful for) but also recognizing what your body can do (go for a walk, hug a friend or a pet, enjoy ice cream, etc.) and who your body allows you to be (generous, smart, funny, etc.).
- Focus on living your experiences fully. Often, negative body image can stop us from doing the things we love most. A few examples: spending time at the beach or a water park (because of the bathing suit requirement), eating the foods we love most in public (because we are scared of other people’s judgement), or getting in a pic with our family (because we hate the way we look). When you start focusing on how it feels to do the things you love (instead of how you look doing those things), you can really enjoy those experiences. A friend of mine, Simi Botic, sums it up so nicely: “look at it less, live in it more!”
- Do something that you are passionate about! When you are using up your time and energy doing something really cool and fun, you have less time to think about what your body looks like. Doesn’t have to be extravagant, just something that gets your mind and heart excited. What would that be for you?
I hope you have a better grasp on what a positive body image looks like and how you can get to a place where you feel better about your body because you are focusing on living in it more and looking at it less.
Cheers to improving your body image over time!
Cora Loomis, diététiste-nutritionniste – Sherbrooke, QC – 819.588.1546