Jennifer Paul, Ph.D, LMHC, QS on Sep 06, 2022
Negative body image messages are insidious. They tell us we aren’t thin enough, we don’t look good enough, we aren’t good enough. These messages are often subtle at first but then grow in intensity with time. Negative body image can lead not only to eating disordered behaviors and disordered eating but also low self-esteem, poor relationships with others, and ongoing physical health issues.
The thing that makes negative body image so pervasive is that its roots are deep. We often learn how to view our bodies based on what was modeled for us in our family of origin. Remember, we weren’t BORN hating our bodies! This isn’t to say that our parents or anyone in our family of origin is all to blame; it is simply to highlight that these messages are often deeply woven into our own worldview. These messages and core beliefs about our bodies often lead us to be at war with ourselves. So how do we stop the war with our bodies and move towards overall peace?
The work here is to begin to understand the origins of our negative body image as well as the current sources of influence on our body image. This can include social, societal, and even global influences. We also need to uncover our own self-messages, the things we tell ourselves about our bodies (i.e., I should look like I did when I was 20, I can’t eat that, if I am no longer a certain size/weight then I won’t be happy). We also need to identify the behavioral consequences of our negative body image. Do we restrict the amount of food we allow ourselves to eat? Do we weigh ourselves multiple times a day? Do we miss out on certain social events because of self-judgment?
Once we are able to identify all of the factors that influence as well as the consequences of our negative body image, we can begin to move towards healing; we can move toward a place of compassion and gratitude for our bodies. Now, I don’t want to oversimplify this. Body image work takes time. Body image work takes a commitment to stepping into past pain, memories of judgment from others, and self-judgment. It requires deliberately challenging our most core beliefs and an assumption about what is “ideal.” It requires a willingness to accept and embrace who we are right in this moment, to make peace with ourselves and actually practice gratitude for all of the things our bodies allow us to do.
If this is something that you are willing to do, it sounds like you are ready to join me in the fight! It's time to fight against the body wars that have held us back and take our power! This is your CALL TO ACTION! Reach out to me TODAY to begin your journey from body wars to body peace!