Fun-house Mirrors & Creating a Positive Body Image

photo source:

photo source:

What do fun-house mirrors and body image have in common?  Both often involve distortion.

This time of year can make it particularly difficult to see ourselves as we really are and can wreak havoc with our sense of self-worth. The warm weather and sunshine go hand-in-hand with wearing shorts, tank tops, and, ah yes, the dreaded swimming outfit. We are bombarded by ads and magazines heralding this as ‘bathing suit season’ and instructing us on how to lose weight before going to the pool, on vacation, or to the next wedding. This can cause an obsession around how our bodies look, and thus, how we feel about ourselves.

Lean or curvy, everyone has fat and ‘trouble spots’; accepting it the first step towards fostering a healthy body image. There is no one right body type. All people have a healthy range of weights and body fat percentages where they look and feel their best. The scale can hold such power over us – and yet it doesn’t inform on how weight is distributed on our frames nor does it provide accurate feedback on our health status.

Creating and Maintaining a Positive Body Image

A healthy self-image is one of the most important things we can have for continued growth and mental health. This involves loving the whole person staring back at you in the mirror each day. Instead of focusing on what you perceive as flaws, you see and accept who you are entirely.  Here are some tips on creating and maintaining a healthy body image:

1. Appreciate how your body allows you to do some of your favorite physical activities – running, yoga, rollerblading, and more. Your body is an excellent vehicle taking you through life.

2. Create a mental list of the top five non-physical components of yourself. Are you loyal, caring, adventurous?

3. Beauty is as beauty does. It is a state of mind grounded in confidence and openness, with an action of compassion for others. It is not purely a physical attribute.

4. Surround yourself with positive, happy people.  It’s quite challenging to be a ray of sunshine in the midst of a bunch of dark, gray clouds. Find others who reflect a positive inner self out to the world.

5. Refrain from comparing yourself to others. It’s a complete waste of energy and a happiness drain to wish to be another or to have what they possess. Instead, focus on yourself, the progress you have made, and the goals for your life.

If you are having a hard time getting into a positive mindset,check out this video from Dove for a reminder that you are more beautiful than you believe yourself to be.