For many people the jump from ‘body hatred’ to ‘body love’ feels overwhelming and impossible. There’s a lot of talk in the media about focusing on ‘body love.’ For those who are struggling with loving their body, it may feel like they are failing.
However, when I work with clients, I talk to them about redefining positive body image. The way that I define positive body image, is not spending so much time thinking about the appearance of your body because you are busy living your amazing life.
Even if you look in the mirror and love what you see, the reality is that our bodies will change as we age. Our bodies are not slabs of marble and they are not meant to stay the same. Thus, putting your self worth into your external appearance is a recipe for discontent.
However, one thing that can be helpful on the journey to creating a more positive body image (i.e. going from body-hate to a less body-focused life) is thinking about a sense of gratitude for body-function.
Practicing body-gratitude is all about shifting focus from the way that your body looks, to thinking about all of the incredible things that your body does for you everyday.
It’s about learning to see that our bodies truly are meant to be our home, not a barometer of our worth or indicative of our value.
There’s a great quote that I love from Glennon Doyle Melton which says,
“Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.
It is suggested to us a million times a day that our BODIES are PROJECTS. They aren’t. Our lives are. Our spirituality is. Our relationships are. Our work is.
Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.”
If you are struggling with a focus on the appearance of your body, it’s so important to be kind to yourself. You are definitely not alone in this and it’s not your fault. However, you can work to take steps to start to improve your body-image.
Additionally, it’s important to note that when thinking about body-gratitude there are many people who struggle with chronic illness, health conditions, and physical disabilities. While, it may seem difficult to practice body gratitude. It’s helpful to acknowledge that it’s understandable that are struggling with this, and then work to shift focus for the abilities that you do have and for the things that your body does for you.
If you are struggling with negative body image and it’s impacting your life, it’s so important to seek help from a professional. Seeking help when you are suffering is a sign of true strength, not weakness.
After all, life is too short to spend your time hating your body and letting the way that you feel about your appearance, keep you from enjoying your incredible life.
Here’s a quick exercise that you can do:
- Write a letter to a part of your body that you struggle with. You could start by sharing some of the unhelpful thoughts that you typically have about that body part, and then finish by expressing your gratitude for all that it does for you.
You can also check out the link below to listen to my free 13 minute, body-gratitude meditation.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.