Overcoming Bad Body Image Days
At 16 years-old, I remember yearning to look like the delicate, tan girls I saw all over Tumblr. I committed to doing "whatever it takes" to look just like them, and as a short(ish), athletic, Minnesota girl, that just was not realistic for me. Setting such unrealistic and unsustainable expectations for my body really messed me up, mentally and physically, and my body image REALLY suffered. I went from not thinking much about my body at all, to be hyper-focused on the way my thighs rubbed together when I ran, my pubescent stretch marks, and my larger-than-average rib cage.
At points, I was CONSUMED with how I looked. Although I was fit and had a "great body" (according to anyone other than myself) I avoided summer pool parties because I was super self-conscious in a bikini. I hated going shopping because I couldn't fit into a size 2 like my favorite thinspos on social media.
I hope that you can't relate, but many women can, unfortunately.
Body image struggles are nearly universal; No matter what shape, size, age, ethnicity, or color you are... I'm sure you've dealt with it at some point in your life. Sometimes bad body image lasts a minute, an hour, a day, or maybe even years... but you owe it to yourself to work through it and move forward in a way that's more accepting and loving. Think about it this way: if you can't feel comfortable and at home in your own body, there's no way you'll be able to truly reach your highest potential!
For many of us, our body image struggles stem from our environment and relationships. Magazines are covered with photos of perfect (photoshopped) bodies, hair, teeth, and skin. Gossip sites criticize every flaw on even the most "hot" celebrities. Rude relatives make comments about you gaining a few pounds. Social media is a highlight real of everyone's best angle.
Over time, that stuff wears. us. down. It becomes harder and harder to stay confident and own what we've got.
I'm now 23 years-old and I think that maintaining positive body image will always be a work in progress (partially because of my past, partially because of the way our society is), but I am MILES beyond where I used to be, and I've definitely found some great ways to turn a bad body image day around.
Here are my top 3 ways to deal with a bad body image day:
1) Make a list of 10 things that you LOVE about yourself, 5 physical and 5 non-physical.
By expressing gratitude for how amazing you are right now, your mental state instantly shifts and you can dig yourself out of a self-deprecating cycle in less than 1 minute
2) Ditch anything (or anyone) that doesn't make you feel good
If watching the Bachelor makes you feel shitty because you don't look like the contestants in their cocktail gowns, DON'T WATCH IT. If scrolling through endless social media fitspos makes you feel not good enough, UNFOLLOW THEM. You are in control of the information you consume, so take an inventory of what info you're feeding yourself, and ditch the bad stuff.
3) Focus on what you CAN DO more than what you LOOK LIKE
One of the biggest body-image breakthroughs I ever experienced happened when I started making performance-based goals instead of appearance-based ones. Once I stopped putting pressure on myself to achieve a tiny waist and a thigh gap, and instead focused on getting stronger, faster, and more athletic, my confidence SOARED. Overcoming previous limitations makes you feel like a total badass, and shifts your focus from how you look to a celebration of the cool stuff your body is capable of.
It's all about becoming your own biggest fan and finding what makes you feel good. It's simple, but it's definitely not easy, so be patient with yourself and remember that shifting our mindsets and thought patterns is never going to be an overnight change!