Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses everything from the shape of your body (including height and weight) to what you believe about your own appearance.
Many of us internalize external messages starting at a young age that can lead to either a positive or negative impact on our body image. Having a healthy body image is an important part of mental well-being but it is easily influenced by what society deems as “ideal” and a variety of outside factors.
Here are a few things you can ask yourself when struggling with body image.
– How do I talk to myself and my body?
– Do I strive to have unrealistic body-related goals?
– How do I feel around others or after scrolling through social media?
– Do people on my feeds look vastly different from myself? If so, what emotional response does that bring up for me?
Let’s normalize this.
I’m talking about body image and the struggles that come with it. Many people struggle with body dissatisfaction, so I want to create a space where we can explore this further. When I say body image that includes every physical aspect (weight, hair, height, skin color, shape and size). We are surrounded by images, media, and posts on a daily basis.
Take a moment, open your social media platform of choice and scroll for a minute. You are bound to see a few selfies (or 100) of friends, family, strangers or celebrities. Social media plays a crucial role in the topic of body image and I’m not too happy about what it’s saying. There are influencers who promote unattainable or unrealistic body images. And what about those who advocate for body inclusivity and positivity? Even those who promote their authentic selves may not be promoting the best messages. How has it made you feel after reading a “body positive” message? Did it make you feel worse? Or have after reading a post, have you asked yourself, “Well, how can I ever achieve that?” Despite influencer’s best efforts there is no denying that there is still an unhealthy culture surrounding body image.
Battling with what is portrayed on social media
Can one really be their authentic self through a mere image or social media post? Social media largely presents the images of “perfected”, “edited”, “filtered” or “idealistic” bodies and lifestyles. When being exposed to content it is normal to either consciously or subconsciously compare ourselves to the people on our media feeds. Whether you’re culturally raised within an individualistic or collectivistic society; there were certain things that are deemed more acceptable than others. There is a sense of competitiveness that is within us all that makes us wonder how we compare to those around us.
I believe the answer is to start from a small, realistic place. A place where we can just be. Positivity isn’t for everyone, and no one feels positive about themselves all the time.
Here are some steps you can take to create mindful space and a neutral relationship with your body.
- Clean up your social feed. (As much as you can!)
- Limit your social media use
- Practice Body Neutrality. It focuses on the facts with body-neutral statements!
- “My body allowed me to get through another day”
- “My features remind me of my loved ones or my culture”
- “My legs allow me to walk”
- “My arms allow me to hug or pet my favorite animal”
- Engage in actions/activities based on feeling not results
- Be mindful of comments made about other’s
About Valine Ripes:
Valine is a Resident in Counseling at Healthy Minds Therapy, PLLC. She graduated from George Mason University with a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Community Agency Counseling. Valine decided to become a counselor based on her own life experiences and how much counseling helped her. She aims to help clients find peace and process through challenges with a person-centered approach. To learn more about Valine, visit HERE.