Body acceptance is the practice of recognizing its abilities and nonphysical characteristics over your appearance. Acceptance is the first step to improving your body image.
The relationship you have with your body is created by your body image story. This story is built on your past and then reinforced by the following:
- Behaviors or actions
These can be positive or negative. Understanding your story, how you feel about your body, and experiences and relationship with your body can help you build a healthier relationship with it.
Improving your body image is an inside job and the time and the energy you spend on this will always be worth it. After all, it’s the one place you have to live.
What actions or behaviors feel good in my body?
How can I treat my body with respect and kindness to move towards body acceptance?
- Wear clothes that feel good on you, that fit, and that you’ve been waiting to wear.
- Recognize what your body CAN do for you by practicing body gratitude.
- Do what feels good to your body by taking care of it in ways that honor your body.
- Speak kindly about your body and others’ bodies. This includes your thoughts and what you say about your body and speaking up for others.
Take the Power Back
It’s not possible to discuss body image without addressing diet culture.
Diet culture is a society and system of beliefs that value weight shape and size over well-being and health.
Anti-Diet Culture Actions:
- Delete or unfollow accounts on your social media platforms that cause you to fall into the comparison trap or make you feel not “good enough”.
- Make empowered consumer decisions by not purchasing diet products or programs/services intended for “weight loss”.
- Identify diet culture in the media you consume to increase your awareness to help break free from its grip.
Your inner critic lives inside your self-talk. Your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and perceptions reinforce the relationship with your body which dictates how you treat it.
The first step to improving your negative self-talk is simply recognizing it when you are experiencing it. The second step is reframing it by neutralizing it into a statement that is no longer harmful. This practice takes time but it is a step necessary in the process of building your body image.
What do you believe about your body?
What have you been told about your body?
- Listen to body-positive podcasts, audiobooks, etc
- Toss the diet books and magazines that promote diet culture
- Move in a way that feels good and rest when you need to
- Follow your body’s cues
- Identify and lean on your support system
- Eat for enjoyment, celebration, community and taste
Strength in Numbers
“Be that girl who roots for the other girl and encourages other women to believe in themselves and their dreams.” Unknown
Taking Action Together:
- Make a “no diet talk” pact with your friends
- Create a weekly meetup to share ideas and stories to support each other
- Start a blog to share your thoughts on body image and provide a safe space for others to comment
- Challenge others with their diet talk and thoughts but in a kind way
- Write a thank you letter to your body and share it with a supportive friend, invite them to do the same
The way you feel about your body can change daily and it’s important to have self-compassion for this ebb and flow. This is a worthwhile practice in addition to practicing acceptance.
You might also be interested in this great article on how to tweak your lifestyle.
Author: Doris Ward is mind-body fitness coach who helps others build their optimal fitness, body confidence and stress resilience through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine.