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How to get your body image in proper perspective
Appreciate your body for what it lets you do each day
To get your body image in healthy perspective, you first need to face up to any unrealistic ideals you have about your own body and stop trying to achieve them. You also need to "reprogram", replacing the messages that society has so far given you with more realistic ones.
A good place to start “reprogramming” is by reminding yourself that a person is more than the sum of their body parts. We all have immense value and worth and contribute to the world in many ways more important than how we look. Do you honestly believe that your thighs or stomach define who you are and determine your value in society?
Here are some ideas to help you get things in perspective:
- Get real. Question the images of perfection that surround you and stop accepting them as the norm. Find out how pictures are airbrushed to remove all visible flaws. The next time you see a picture of a model and think you should look like that, take a picture of yourself and have someone airbrush it to perfection!
- Get appreciative. Instead of disparaging your body, how about appreciating it? It takes you for walks, lets you see the sunset and hear beautiful music. Without it you couldn’t swim in the ocean or taste fresh strawberries. You couldn’t have children. You wouldn’t laugh or cry. You wouldn’t be able to hug someone. So maybe you are not a size 8 – in the grand scheme of life, how important is that really?
- Get age-wise. As we move through the different stages of our lives, developing and nurturing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to our happiness and emotional health. Expect to change as you age, and try this on for a healthy attitude: "I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point." – Susan Sarandon
- Get sensible. Take stock of how often you criticise yourself because of your shape or size: Is it some of the time, most of the time, or all of the time? It is the rare person who doesn't occasionally take a backward glance in the mirror, and find some imperfections. But when a two-second glance can ruin your day, it is time to take a much longer look at your perception of yourself.
- Get affirmative. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmation. Make a list of some of your positive qualities (at least fifteen). For example, "I like my hair," or "I am a valuable, lovable person and deserve the best in life." Practice repeating one or two affirmations to yourself every day, throughout the day. Rehearse them in your mind, say them out loud, write them down, even record them and play them back as you go to sleep! Do whatever it takes to replace the negative self-talk. As you internalise more and more positive affirmations, your self-perceptions will begin to change.
The choice is yours
Beauty is subjective and multi-faceted, and should be enjoyed. But an inability to see beauty in yourself can be destructive. It can also make weight control a much tougher challenge.
If you need help overcoming issues with body image, there are many support groups as well as a variety of professional treatment plans and programs available.
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Last updated: September 5th, 2006