I cannot tell you how many times throughout my life — especially during my late teend & early 20’s — I said the phrase, “I feel fat.” I could be having a perfectly pleasant day, only to suddenly find myself drowning in negative body image. The truth at that time in my life I was probaly the slimmest Ive ever been, and how I would kill for that tummy now!
Sometimes the trigger for those feelings was situational, like putting on a pair of jeans that just came out of the dryer, feeling overly full after a meal or catching a glimpse of myself in a shop mirror while shopping. At other times, a more insidious, pervasive type of body dissatisfaction prevailed in that nothing triggered the feeling. It was as if the feeling seeped into my skin and, in an instant, I felt like X body part had tripled in size even though, rationally, I knew that wasn’t possible. “I feel fat”; three words that were seemingly benign when standing solo, for years had the potential to ruin my day (and my sanity) when aligned to form a complete sentence.
In our culture today, where success is defined by one’s ability to fit into society’s prescribed and unrealistic ideal of perfection, I blame social media for this! It isn’t surprising that a large percentage of women have body image issues or a general lack of confidence in their body image. The overvaluation of extreme thinness and devaluation of internal beauty saturates every media outlet. So, wherever you go, whatever television show you watch and no matter what blog or magazine you read, the message is clear: You can never be thin enough. Because of this ideology, you certainly do not have to have an eating disorder to have body image issues. With so much societal pressure, there were many times when I felt hopeless that I would ever feel good in my body. I would be misrepresenting myself if I said that I never experience body image issues. However, I’m here to tell you that there is hope! Below are some simple tools and steps that helped me along the way in my body image recovery. Now dont get me wrong even as Personal Stylist I still have those days when I feel fat, or not so good in my clothes, thats human nature and of course hormones! But these steps can and will help you feel better about your body in an instant!
Acknowledge and Identify: When I notice that “I feel fat” feeling, the first thing I do is recognize that I am having the feeling. Furthermore, “feeling” fat is often easier than feeling angry, hurt, lonely, etc. That leads me to wonder in what way my emotions may be making me feel emotionally full or fat. I try to first identify what is going on for me emotionally aka a period or time of the month issue.
Choose: I remind myself that when my negative voice tries to disrupt my happiness with intrusive body image thoughts, I have a choice in how I respond to those thoughts. I can choose to listen to the thoughts and fuel self-hatred, or I can choose to change the thoughts and reinforce self-love. Look in the mirror and remind yourself about all the good things about you.
Support: When body image issues arise, the last thing you probably want to do is be around others. I have found that surrounding myself with positive people in my life actually help because it gets me out of myself. Feeling connected with others can actually help squash some of the perfectionism and criticism tied to body dissatisfaction.
Appreciate: Instead of focusing on how your body looks from the outside, think of all of the wonderful attributes and strengths your body has from the inside. Make a gratitude list of all the things you appreciate about your body.
Stop Comparing: The more we compare, the more we feel despair. When we compare, especially when experiencing body dissatisfaction, we are going to see all the positives in someone else and negatives in ourselves. Comparisons are not usually helpful, even if we are in the best of mental states.
Have Compassion: In moments when body image issues come up, I am usually feeling critical in some way about myself. What I need most when I am feeling and focusing negatively about my body or myself is to treat myself with kindness. Beating myself up will not help me, but doing something nice for myself that pertains to self-care will. If you must focus on a body part, do it with compassion and get a massage or a pedicure!
Gain Acceptance: Finally, accept your body in this moment. Imagine how different your life can be in this very moment if you stop trying to berate, change or control your body and instead allow yourself to accept your body for what it is. When we accept, we let go of the struggle.
I have learnt to accept my body, yes I do still have moments of “yuk” or moaning about my mum tum but do you know what clever dressing is key, and learning to feel confident in your style goes a long way. If you need some help with your style or image and would love to know those secret tips to looking & feeling great get in contact.