I used to think that people who are thin and muscular (and thereby fit our odd, ridiculous Western standards) absolutely love their bodies. How could they not?
I also used to think that I couldn’t love or even like or even accept my body until I lost weight, until I actually deserved to love it. In my current shape, it just wasn’t right to have a healthy body image. I had to be ashamed instead.
Thankfully, I’ve learned quite a bit since those days. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that everyone deserves to appreciate, accept and love their bodies.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
That’s why I wanted to share with you some of the things that people with a positive body image know. The real stuff. Not what you read in women’s magazines or see in weight-loss commercials.
People with a positive body image know that:
1. It’s important to take good care of your body. Again, you deserve to do so at every size.
2. Our bodies do a lot for us. Just consider these five amazing facts about our bodies. If you tend to forget the magic of your body, consider counting your blessings with a gratitude buddy.
3. Exercise is meant to be enjoyed, so you practice the physical activities that are fun and truly make you feel good.
4. You’ll still have days when you dislike your body and your life. And that’s OK.
5. Your negative thoughts are not actions. So just because you feel bad about your body and want to restrict your food or over-exercise or miss that get-together doesn’t mean you will. It’s just a thought. You can choose to act on it or not.
6. A positive body image goes beyond liking your looks. It encompasses honoring your body, respecting your boundaries and focusing on your health, such as seeing doctors for regular appointments and specific concerns.
7. Sleep does a mind and body good!
8. You always have time to take care of yourself. You’re of no use to anyone if you’re starving and malnourished.
9. You’re more than a few body parts. You’re whole. You’re an entire amazing package.
10. You’re worthy and deserving of respect at any size, shape or weight. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!
11. Weight loss isn’t a magical elixir for everything that’s wrong with your life.
12. Ads and magazines are preposterously Photoshopped. Even the actresses and models don’t look like that. That’s why they have to “train” so hard for fashion shows. (And by train hard, I mean engage in super unhealthy habits.)
13. Eating is flexible and enjoyable.
14. You can wear whatever the heck you like, not just supposedly slimming black clothes or bulky cardigans and sweatshirts.
15. You don’t have to wait to lose weight to pursue your dreams. You can. do. it. right. now. (And I hope you will.)
16. People who make mean remarks about your body are jerks, and their comments are more about them than you.
17. Just because everyone around you is dieting doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest thing to do. (If everyone was jumping off a cliff…just kidding.)
18. It’s best to acknowledge and accept your feelings, versus avoiding them at all costs, which just requires more energy (and inner turmoil). Feelings provide you with valuable information about your needs and the actions you might want to take.
19. Having a positive body image is a process. Day by day. It might seem impossible at first, but by taking small steps, you’ll feel better and build a healthier body image, too.
20. You can boost your well-being without ever focusing on weight.
21. Our bodies are wise. We just need to listen. (As I’ve mentioned before, a body scan can help to sharpen our listening skills.)
22. While “fat talk” is common, it’s not benign. It’s not a way to bond with your friends (e.g., “You think you’re fat? Look at me!” “Your thighs are wayyy smaller.” “You can totally eat that piece of cake, but I definitely can’t.” “So how many calories did you eat already?”). It’s dangerous. But anyone can learn to stop bashing their body.
23. There are so many more interesting and enjoyable things to do than read women’s magazines and worry about your weight. In fact, there are at least 50!
24. You don’t need to apologize for your appearance. Ever.
25. Self-compassion is a powerful foundation for a positive body image.
26. You deserve to love your body at every size, shape and weight.
27. Loving your body does not mean “giving up” or “letting yourself go.” (Aren’t these phrases infuriating?) As I wrote in this post:
Self-loathing doesn’t lead to self-care. It leads to more self-loathing, heartache and depression. A positive body image does mean prioritizing your health. When you respect and love yourself, you want to honor your needs: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Please don’t ever be afraid of loving your body — and yourself — at any shape, size, weight, or whatever. Loving your body doesn’t have negative consequences. But hating it does.