Hey everyone, hope you’re well. As you’re probably aware, Mental Health Awareness Week is from Monday 13th to Sunday the 19th May and the theme is body image. It’s always great to see the work the Mental Health Foundation do for these awareness weeks, and the amazing amount of fundraising and awareness people bring to mental health. It’s important to always spread awareness which is a big reason to why I run a mental health and well-being blog.
As the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image, I thought I’d share with you my journey with what I have gone through regarding my body image and how bad my self-esteem has been. However, I will also share some positive tips and ways to change your mind set about how you might feel about your own body. Unfortunately, body image is something a lot of us feel negative about, it’s common for all ages, genders, and cultures. I know I have definitely gotten changed into more than one outfit in the past because I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and thought that I looked horrible.
What convinces our mind to have these negative thoughts?
Social Media Platforms: Sadly, a lot of us get caught up on these “perfect” Instagram models and it can make you feel upset about yourself because you don’t look like them. Even our personal Facebook accounts can make us feel negative about our body image because you might see a friend, or an acquaintance post a picture of them and it can make you think “why can’t I look as good as they do?” However, regarding the Facebook point I made, I definitely don’t think we should stop posting pictures of ourselves, hey, if you want to show the world that you look good, then you go for it. It can take a lot of convincing and bravery to put a picture of ourselves up online for all to see, and people often forget that not everyone is the same shape or size, we all look good in our own ways. It would be pretty boring to all look the same, don’t you think?
Self-acceptance: If you truly accept and like the way you look you will have a very healthy body image and positive self-esteem – and of course, this is something we should all aim for. I also don’t think it’s negative if we want to lose a bit of weight, or change up our fashion style etc, you do what’s best for you, but you shouldn’t let it work you up so much that you become addicted to changing everything about you, or that it really affects your mental well-being. If you start becoming too obsessive about your body image you can develop compulsive behaviours and routines such as using mirrors excessively, or even picking your skin because you worry so much about the way you look. If you feel like you are doing these kinds of things, then you need to speak to a doctor and/or reach out for support.
So, what is a healthy body image?
A healthy body image should be that you are recognising the individual qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape or appearance.
Do I have a healthy body image?
I’d say that I have got to a stage where I am feeling a lot more positive about myself. I still will say things such as “I look fat today” or “my tummy is sticking out a lot.” So, I’m definitely not at the stage where I’m totally body positive. However, I used to be a lot worse. For years and years, I would never have my legs out. Remember that really hot summer we had in 2018? I really struggled with that. The thought of wearing a dress, skirt, or shorts terrified me. But, I did it. For the first time in years, that summer of 2018 I went out of the house in dresses and had my legs on show for all to see. I am yet to go to work with my legs out though, so I am pretty nervous when the summer time hits again this year and it’s probably too hot to be in tights or trousers. I’ve gone to the gym, have done home workouts, have had a pretty healthy diet for a while and my legs haven’t changed that much. Like I said before, we are all different shapes and sizes! I’m pretty sure that if two or three people went to the gym together, ate the same healthy food, their bodies wouldn’t look identical. Another thing with me and for most people, my legs being ‘too big’ is in my head. I’ve been told countless times that my legs look good, but I’m still not totally convinced. A positive body image isn’t just working at our body till we’re happy with it, it’s working at our minds as well, it’s self-acceptance and having a positive self-esteem.
Tips on how to feel good about your body image –
1. Focus on your good bits. I’m sure if whoever is reading this now will be able to say at least one thing about their body they like. When we look into the mirror, we always criticise the parts we don’t like, but what if we changed that and only pointed out the good parts. Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, list the things that you do like about yourself. The positivity that you will get from it is amazing. It’s good to do this in the morning as well, as it can start you off with a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
2. Learn about your body shape. We all have different body shapes, so why don’t you learn about it. Certain clothes and the way we dress can impact how we feel about ourselves. Also, it doesn’t matter if the clothes that make you feel good are hidden either. How many of you put on matching underwear and feel sexy? You don’t need to dress to impress others, you dress to impress yourself. If you’re unsure what clothes may suit your body shape then you can always go to a clothes outlet and speak to a stylist, I feel like if I went to a stylist for advice I’m sure it’ll surprise me in a good way. But, that said, I have a style of clothes that I know and feel they suit me – and this can help with a positive body image.
3. Take care of your body. I mentioned that a positive body image is mostly down to our mindset and how we feel about ourselves but, being healthy also impacts us. I’m not talking about our shapes and sizes, as we’re all different, but looking after our body is definitely important, we want our bodies to be happy. I’m not talking about putting yourself on crazy diets either, I’m just talking about eating healthy. It’s so important to look after our health and unfortunately, we can’t go day to day life eating unhealthy food, we have to give it a well-balanced diet. I know eating chocolate and having takeaways makes us feel happy, I love having a pizza ordered to me every so often! But, that’s it, ‘every so often.’ It’s a happy treat! I don’t want you to think that you have to eat a salad every day for the rest of your life, because you don’t. You just need to make sure that in between the unhealthy food you also have food that’s good for you.
4. Stop judging yourself on a number. We all tend to focus on those numbers, may it be your weight, your BMI, your calorie intake, your dress size… we allow these numbers to determine how we feel about ourselves. There’s not much point buying clothes that you know are going to be a squeeze to get into, buy the correct size. You only need to buy different sizes when the clothes you usually wear are too big or small for you. Why torture yourself buying clothes you know will not fit? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to give yourself goals to get to, maybe you want to lose a few pounds but don’t stress yourself out with having the clothes already bought before you’ve lost the weight.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that you found it interesting. I know how hard it can be to change negative mindsets, especially when it comes to body image. But, it’s not impossible. I hope my tips can help you to begin your positive body journey.
Hi, my name is Chloe! I am a highly commended awarded blogger over at ChloeChats.com. I blog about mental health and well-being, and also enjoy the occasional lifestyle and chatty posts. I am a massive tea drinker, love animals – especially my two adorable pets Otis (who is a cat) and Xavier (who is a hamster) and enjoy interacting with the blogging community.
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