I’m sure most people struggle with their body image, some more than others.
As somebody who struggled with an eating disorder for many years, I have a lot of experience with this. However, low self esteem relating to our bodies is in no way exclusive to those with eating disorders. We are all vulnerable to falling prey to those negative thoughts and feelings.
I still struggle with body image a lot, but it is definitely better than it was. One of the ways I cope with this is to think about everything I like about myself, appearance related or not.
I like my tattoos – which in turn helps me to like my body more. I like that I am caring. I like that I am academic. I like that I have pink hair, and that it is so thick it’s withstood years of being bleached to within an inch of its life. I like that I am creative. I like that I use my experiences for good. I like that I have strong morals. I like that I am a positive person.
Another way is by thinking about everything my body allows me to do.
I can travel to the other side of the world, and have done so completely alone. I can ride my bike in the forest. I can lift weights at the gym. I can hug people I care about. I can ride a horse in the sea. I can swim with whale sharks. I can snuggle my cat. I can pet my bunnies. I can lay in bed under my duvet and feel myself wrapped up in it. I can dance at a festival. I can do many, many things that I wouldn’t be able to do without my body being as well as it is.
Lastly, I like to remind myself of everything I have in my life that is important to me. It minimises the importance of the difficult thoughts because I know I still have wonderful things in my life, in spite of my body and my feelings towards it.
I have the best boyfriend and the best friends. I have the most wonderful pets. I have a job that I love. I have enough money to travel and go to festivals and have a nice car. I have the ability to go for a run. I have a lovely house that I share with my favourite human. I have access to mental health care. I have a social circle who care about me and make sure that I know that on a regular basis. I have an amazing support network. I have a body that has all of the qualities already mentioned.
Using all these methods puts my body image into perspective. It doesn’t make the thoughts about it go away, but it does stop me catastrophising and gets me to focus on the world that exists outside of the space I take up.
I’d love to hear some more strategies if anybody has any, or to find out if any of my tips have been helpful!