We are not aware of most of our thoughts about our bodies. They live deep down, close to our idea of who we are at our core.
When I lead Body Confidence Workshops, I ask attendees to go excavating: What are you saying to yourself when you look in the mirror? What about when you see a picture of yourself? What thoughts come up in when you are getting dressed, going to shower, or working out? Most women find they focus on one or two aspects of their body that really bother them.
You are simply wrong . . . alot
In order to find a “true perception of yourself” -- the first piece of a positive body image -- your task is to address your recurring negative body-thoughts. Where is your perception distorting your experience living in your body? Your lens is based on your thoughts; it is not the truth. You are probably off in your assessment. Everyone is.
Reframe your thoughts
Can you challenge your negative body-thoughts? When you are unaware of your thoughts, they actually live unchallenged in your mind. When you dig them up, you might find they might do well with a bit of logic and re-framing.
So, your thought, “I need to be a size 2 (subsitute your own size) like my sister,” might look like this with your re-framing applied, "I am not built like my sister. She takes after dad's side. I look like mom."
You will start to realize that some of the thoughts you have about your body were formed decades ago. So maybe, "I weigh so much more than I weighed in high school," with re-framing becomes "We are supposed to gain weight as we age. It is unreasonable to expect not to."
External vs Internal Judgment
I ask people to notice the type of thoughts they are having. Are you constantly mentioning the scale or a clothing size? Most women in Kardashian Culture focus on these numbers much more than serves them well, creating an obsession with external measurements.
All women throughout human history, except for the last 50 years, had no idea how much they weighed. Bathroom scales only became a common fixture in people's bathrooms in the 1960s. Also, clothes throughout human history were made to fit a person's body. It is only recently that mass produced clothing made standard sizes necessary. But, the intention is the same, the clothes are supposed to fit your body, we aren't supposed to manipulate our bodies to fit into a clothing size.
If these standards are not good for our wellbeing, they've outgrown their usefulness, and it is time to change the standard. We can take care of our own bodies without feeling badly that they don't fit into a number that doesn't mean anything about us. If we focus on nourishing our bodies well and getting exercise, we can go on living our lives without external measurements ruining it.
"Girls are taught to view their bodies as unending projects to work on, whereas boys from a young age, are taught to view their bodies as tools to master their environment." --Gloria Steinem
- Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Body Respect, 2014.
- Carolyn Costin, Your Dieting Daughter, 2013 (2nd edition).
- Renee Engeln, Beauty Sick, 2017.
- Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, 2014 (2nd edition).
- Rachel Simmons, Enough As She Is, 2018.
- Julia V. Taylor, The Body Image Workbook for Teens, 2014.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, 2017.