Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Having a good body image means starting now. Don't wait until you lose some random amount of weight before you accept your body. If you choose to wait until you feel your body is perfect before you love it...you will go through your life hating yourself.
Messages from society, peers, and family constantly influence an individual's body image. The images in magazines are altered. We need to be aware that the images we receive constantly are so distorted. It is impossible to try to live up to an 'ideal' that does not even exist.
The problem is your perception of your body. You know how you stand in front of the bathroom mirror, twisting about to look at all your junk? So you find some "imperfections"--surprise!
Ideal body weight charts, BMI tables, and any assessment tool you use are all very flawed. None of this matters, though, because you don’t need outside measurements to confirm what is clearly reflecting back to you: I am so fat.
Our culture is generally fatphobic. It takes an act of heroic resistance to reject this mentality and be willing to accept and honor our bodies as they were designed to be.
We are indoctrinated to fear fat from a young age, and we internalize this fear and project it onto ourselves. The clinical term for the distorted mental state is Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I would argue that many of my clients and many of the people reading this article are struggling with this disorder to some degree. A negative body image can absolutely negatively impact your quality of life. Even though you may have always felt this way doesn't mean it is normal or okay.
Until we can accept our beautiful, imperfect bodies, we will continue to suffer with wounded self esteem. We believe these thoughts are our only defense against eating ourselves even fatter. I would argue, though, that it is this type of thinking that actually leads us to comfort ourselves more frequently with food.
What I have found is that when a person becomes overly conscious of their physical appearance, there is typically something else going on inside of them. If these thoughts begin to affect your life—refusal to go to social events, missing time with family to work out—you have to take a closer look.
Our obsession with weight helps us to distract ourselves from uncomfortable thoughts. These thoughts are usually about other things in our lives over which we have no control. When we feel uncomfortable, it gets translated in our minds as feeling fat. If our body is the problem, then there is a sense of being in control of the solution.
The negative body image provides a cover for these deeper issues. Ever notice how one day you feel okay and the next you feel so fat? It is not possible that your body has changed--your feelings have changed. Your body image is very dependent on what you are feeling and thinking.
So, the next time your friend says that she ‘feels fat’—whether the charts agree with her or not—ask her what she is really feeling. She might look at you weird, but we need to honor one another by exploring our true feelings. When the person you are closest to in the whole world (yourself) says that she ‘feels fat’, just know that she is just unaware of what she is really feeling and needs to be pampered, and ultimately, unconditionally loved.