Trigger Warning – body image
Do you feel like the negative thoughts about your appearance are taking over you? Here are some ways to deal with them.
Appearance is often considered an important aspect of any person. With that, there are certain traits that are considered more attractive or ideal and these can be more universal or vary depending on culture, society or community. A certain standard is often set by society and promoted by the media.
As humans, our appearance is a certain way when we are born and it changes over time due to a variety of reasons. However, oftentimes the concept of ideal appearance or the most perfect appearance interferes with what a person may look like naturally.
Similarly, there may be certain appearances that one might think as of the ideal appearance may vary from what they actually look like. When there is a sense of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance or having negative feelings or perception of one’s appearance is known as negative body image.
Negative body image is not limited to the shape of one’s body but one’s appearance as a whole. It is normal for people especially in today’s age of heavy social media influence and filters to have insecurity when it comes to appearance. There is also a certain level of expectation in many cases of what a person should look like in terms of appearance.
Over time comparing oneself to social media posts and even in some cases to the beautifying filters in various apps can create a certain level of obsession with one’s appearance in a way that is often not healthy. You end up comparing yourself to an almost unrealistic standard and not matching that standard can often lead to having negative thoughts about your appearance.
There are however ways in which you can find healthier ways to cope with these thoughts and improve your body image.
Realizing the illusion of perfect
This becomes one of the most important things when it comes to dealing with negative body image. The definition of perfect varies not just in different societies but also from person to person. What is portrayed in the media or promoted by society is not a factual concept of what an ideal or perfect appearance is because there is no absolute or factual definition of what a perfect appearance should be like.
It is created by people and it changes over time. A certain trait that was once ridiculed can become beautiful at another time solely because of how the media portrays it. What is often seen especially in the media is often touched up professionally to make it appear as perfect as possible but it often varies from reality.
Human beings naturally are diverse in terms of appearance which is largely determined by our genetic makeup. While trends of what an ideal appearance is will change over time that does not mean that you need to go against what you are naturally to meet those ideals that are in most cases unrealistic.
You have been created as a unique individual and there is no real need for you to look like someone else. When you step back and look at the bigger picture you will realize that most of the time you are the one who is the harshest on yourself when it comes to judging yourself and that often creates negative thoughts about yourself and at that point you affect yourself negatively.
Regardless of what you look like and even if your appearance changes you will never be happy with yourself if you do not change your thought process. You will always find flaws and there will always be something that’s not good enough so it is healthier to accept yourself for who you are.
Your body has so many functions, every day your body does a lot of work so you can stay alive and help you perform your daily activities. Take your time and be appreciative towards your body. Constantly criticizing it means you are dumping your negative feelings towards your body when it really does so much for you.
Once you start becoming more grateful towards your body, it helps to subside the negative feelings that you may have towards it, creating a more positive body image. This will also help you to become more in tune with your body so you can address its needs better.
Prioritize your health
Your appearance does not determine your worth as a human being even though it may feel like that sometimes. When it comes to setting priorities in your life, health should definitely be one of the top priorities. Do not go take extreme measures just so you can look a certain way without knowing the consequences of those choices to your body.
Once again listen to your body, and make sure that you are getting proper nutrition, adequate amount of exercise, proper rest. These things in itself are bound to make your body feel good and that in turn is likely to reduce the negative thoughts and feelings that you may have towards yourself and improve your body image.
As human beings, it is normal to compare ourselves to others and it is also normal to have negative thoughts and emotions. What matters is how you deal with them, whether you allow them to consume you or whether you acknowledge them for what they are and try to turn them into less negative or positive thoughts and feelings through various means.
Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division. (2015). Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Mental Health | Here to Help. Heretohelp.
Center for Change. (n.d.). Battling Our Bodies: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Body Images.