Have You Felt Like This?
As a woman in a fat body, I’ve struggled a lot with my body image. Even as a kid, I was in a larger body than most other kids. It created a lot of experiences for me that chipped away at my body peace.
I remember a gathering at a friend’s house. One adult that I had just met commented, “Well, you have a pretty face.” Even at 13, I knew what that meant. I was fat but at least I wasn’t ugly too. I felt ashamed of my body and wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.
Instead, I just said “thanks” and kept mingling.
This is just one experience that created a warped body image that continued into my late 20s. It wasn’t until I found body mindset movements like body positivity that I started liking my body again.
I know that you have your own experiences that have created body image issues. You’ve probably had many of these experiences over the years, just like I did.
Experiences Shape Body Image
Having all of these experiences can cause you to struggle with body image and dissatisfaction. While you can’t stop these experiences from happening, you can make sure they don’t destroy your body image.
Great news! Today, I will share how body positivity and body neutrality can be tools in your toolbox to help reshape your feelings about your body. These are tools that I used to move past my body image issues.
First, let’s look at why you need tools to reshape your body image and boost your body positivity.
The Body Image Struggle Is Real
Deep down, you know it’s true.
It is easy for you to feel like you are the only one struggling. But you aren’t alone. You’ve witnessed all of the women in your life struggle with be dissatisfied with their bodies.
Body dissatisfaction means you like none of your body or only liking parts of your body. This statistic about body image estimates that 20-40% of women are struggling with their body image right now.1
That is incredible, isn’t it? And it is pretty sad. You may find that your body dissatisfaction turns into body shame, another form of body hate.
Here is the kicker: hating your body doesn’t go away when you get older. So if you’ve been telling yourself that when you are 40 or 50 years old you will like your body again, stop now.1 That is a lie.
Why do I say all this? I need you to know that body image won’t improve without work. I don’t want you worrying your stomach rolls at 80. I want you to make peace with your body so you can start feeling better in your body.
Are you convinced that you need to pursue body peace now? Good. Keep reading.
The Body Postivity Movement
Body positive movements were created to change how you feel about your fat body. People have recognized that most people feel bad about their bodies. As a result, methods were developed to change your mindset and get you feeling better about your body. These include body positivity, body acceptance, and body neutrality.
But, body positivity is the method you have most likely heard of. It is everywhere in recent years. You will find it in social media, traditional media, universities, and even workplace wellness. You may still be unsure of what it means.
What Is Body Positivity?
Well, body positivity means different things to different people. It is used to describe loving your body absolutely. It is, ultimately, an empowerment movement. Body positivity is about finding feelings of joy and enthusiasm for every part of your body, positive and negative.
Body postivity can be used to improve anyone’s relationship to their bodies. However, you will likely hear it used when talking about women’s relationships to their bodies.
You won’t be surprised to hear that body positivity has strong roots in feminism. Many people attribute body positivity to the early 1960s fat acceptance movements.2 In fact, most of the body positivity and fat activists you find on social are women.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Women have dealt with body image issues for a very long time. This isn’t just a me and you problem. It is a problem for all women.
Body positivity, in some form, has been around for a while. And it does have its critics. Let’s take a look at some of the ones you may have heard about and why you should try body positivity anyway.
Criticisms of Body Positivity
Have you heard negative talk about body positivity? Here are some of the things you may hear while on your body positivity journey.
Fact or Fake?
“It Will Make You Unhealthy.”
Some believe that you feeling good about your body isn’t that important. Sad, isn’t it? These people spend a lot of time ignoring the science of weight loss and focusing on outdated health information.
Feeling good about your body can actually lower stress. Stress has a well-known impact on your health.3 Lowering your stress means getting healthier.
This one is fiction.
“They Are Selling You Something.”
Unfortunately, companies may use body positive language to sell you things.
What do I mean?
Well, it is the job of marketing departments to find out what is hurting you. They figure out your pain points and use that information to sell you things. You can see this with huge clothing companies. You may even see it in small businesses ‘ social accounts.
And they aren’t actually selling you things that will improve your body image. They may sell weight loss. They may sell diets.
This isn’t just a body positivity issue. Unfortunately, any empowerment movements are at risk of being co-opted by marketers.
What you need to do is simple. Be aware of how this can impact you. Look out for the use of empowerment language by companies.
This one is fact.
Just remember: Don’t throw out body positivity just because of some criticisms. It has helped so many people improve their relationships with their bodies. It helped me. It can help you.
Here’s Why You Need To Add Body Postivity Today
No doubt about it, you can use body-positive strategies to change your feelings about your body. And it can work wonders for you.
Check this out: body positivity can drastically improve your body image.
Body positivity, body image, and self-esteem are very closely related.
Practicing body positivity can increase your self-esteem. Increasing your self-esteem can improve your body image. 4
Unfortunately, the opposite can be true, too. If you have low self-esteem because you think negatively about your body, your body image won’t improve.
Plus, when you have low self-esteem you are more likely to feel bad about your body. And any of those negative experiences like I described earlier. Yeah, those will hit you hard.
But if your self-esteem is higher, you will be more resilient against those types of experiences. That means that they will hurt you less. Your high self-esteem can protect you from the harmful effects of diet culture and make it less likely that you will develop an eating disorder.4
Let me share with you some of the tips that I’ve used to start liking my body again. My clients have had great success with these. I know you will too.
5 FoolProof Tips To Make Body Positivity Work For You
1. Expose Yourself To Body Positive Message
If body positivity feels silly to you, you aren’t alone. I felt strange about it at first, too. You may wonder why it seems unnatural.
It’s simple. You aren’t used to hearing good things about your bodies. Diet culture tells you that so many things about your body are wrong. You’ve heard it for so long that you have internalized those thoughts.
So when it comes to listening to and believing good things about your bodies. It is tough. It goes against what you’ve always heard.
How can you start to see body positivity as normal? Start exposing yourself to body-positive messages.
So how do you do that?
Check Out These Resources To Get You Started
Body positivity is huge on Instagram. If you are like me, you are checking social pretty often. It is a great way to get repeated exposures to body positive affirmations.
But remember that since it is so popular, it is sometime used to promote diet culture and weight loss. You may see some examples of this in body positive hashtags.
Accounts To Follow:
Body Positivity Affirmations
Body positive quotes are great tools to help like your body again. . You can write them on sticky notes and post them up anywhere. These are the perfect bite-size reminders that your fat body is wonderful.
Not sure where to find body positivity affirmations? Check out these 50 body positive quotes.
I like to add body positive affirmations in places I am frequently.
- The bathroom mirror
- The fridge
- Your computer screen
- Inside your office door
Need some help coming up with ideas? Download this free printable bonus for 16 body positive affirmations to start reconnecting with your body.
Ultimately, listening to body-positive messages can be just as helpful as reading them. Even though we only remember about 10% of what we hear, listening to people share stories like your own can motivate you to start being more body-positive.
This body-positive podcast list from RealSimple.com can be a great place to start.
2. Practice Body Positive Language On Yourself
Now that you are familiar with body positive affirmations, what do you do?
Start using them, of course!
Those sticky notes that you set up? Instead of just reading those body positive affirmations, say them out loud. And don’t just say them. Really focus on those words. Try to feel them.
Do this at different times each day. It may be hard for you to remember at first.
Setting up a reminder on your phone may help.
3. Tell Your Body “Thank You” Daily
Stick with me here. This one might surprise you. Saying thank you is important. Have you said “thank you” to your body today?
Okay, so maybe not today. What about this week? This month?
You probably haven’t. Most people probably haven’t. Our bodies aren’t thought of as something to be appreciated.
Your Are In A Relationship With Your Body
Have you realized it yet? You are in a relationship with your body.
So let’s take a look at what therapists have to say about saying thank you to a romantic partner. Use these points with your body.
From the article, we can see how this could work with our relationship with our body. You might find that by saying thank you to your body you:
- You appreciate more about your body.
- You change the way you think about your body.
- You are empowered.
- Feeling better can help you continue this new pattern.
Follow me on this.
Without a doubt, it might seem silly to try what works for romantic relationships. Doesn’t your relationship with your body deserve to be nurtured as much as the relationship with a romantic partner?
You bet it does!
Try it. Thanking your body for all that it does for you might just be the key to ending your body hate and finding that body peace you deserve.
4. Redirect Negative Self-Talk
Now you are ready to tackle that mean voice in your head that brings attention to the things you hate about yourself. That negative self-talk can undermine your body positive journey progress. But you can stop it!
Talk To Yourself Like A Friend
Think about the worst things you say to yourself about your fat body.
Now let me ask you, would you say that to your best friend? Probably not. You are way harder on yourself than anyone else would be! And so much harsher in what you say to yourself than what you would say to a friend.
Try this: Next time you catch yourself saying something mean about your body, stop and ask yourself, “would I say this to my best friend?”.
But the point here isn’t to beat yourself up for having a negative voice. We all do. Sit with that for a moment and recognize that it is a side effect of diet culture in this case.
What we want to do is turn that negative thinking around. After you’ve acknowledged the negative voice, think about how you would respond if a friend said that about themselves. Take those words and use them for yourself.
Bonus points if you do this out loud. Saying things out loud can make them feel more real than thoughts. You need to make these body-positive messages feel real to stop that negative voice.
5. Stop Doing Things To Punish Your Body
You know those things that you are doing to punish your body for being fat?
Stop doing them now. You will not be able to truly love your body until you stop trying to “fix” it.
End the diets. Forget overexercising.5 You don’t need any of it to be “better”, whatever that means.
If you are like me, this might be the hardest tip to tackle. I said all the right words to myself. I exposed myself to body-positive messages. But I kept getting sucked back in to hating my body by monitoring what I ate and focusing too much on exercise.
Once I started an eating pattern that was free from disordered eating and started moving my body for the simple joy of it, I finally was able to accept body positivity.
What If Body Positivity Doesn’t Sound Authentic To You
But hang on a minute…
Are you saying to yourself this sounds like bull? How am I supposed to love my body all the time when I don’t like it all right now?
I hear you. I felt the same way.
It felt awkward and almost wrong when I started trying to be body positive. And you know what, that was okay.
I encourage you to try it and see how it feels after a while. There are other options like body neutrality and body acceptance that you can explore if, ultimately, body positivity isn’t for you.
Now Go, Make It Happen
Thankfully, I was able to change my mindset on my body. Today, I hardly think about my body. I went through a lot of hard work to get where I am today.
For years, I used different tools but one critical thing was learning about body positivity. In fact, I still use these tools.
Now it’s your turn to put these 5 foolproof tips to stop hating your body to use.
- Expose yourself to body positive messaging.
- Practice using body positive affirmations. Everyday.
- Tell your body “thank you.”
- Redirect negative self-talk.
- Stop doing things to punish your body.
Like me, you’ll find you need to keep using these body positive tools. And that is okay.
Changing the way you view your body isn’t one and done. It truly takes work. With this in mind, know that you can take several steps forwards and slip one step back.
Don’t forget: it is still progress, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
You can 100% make peace and love your body again.
Do yourself a favor and start today.
- Quittkat HL, Hartmann AS, Düsing R, Buhlmann U, Vocks S. Body dissatisfaction, importance of appearance, and body appreciation in men and women over the lifespan. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2019;10. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00864.
- Cohen R, Irwin L, Newton-John T, Slater A. #bodypositivity: A content analysis of body positive accounts on Instagram. Body Image. 2019;29:47-57. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.02.007.
- Thoits PA. Stress and health: Major findings and policy implications. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 2010;51(1_suppl). doi:10.1177/0022146510383499.
- Sundgot-Borgen C, Stenling A, Rosenvinge JH, Pettersen G, Friborg O, Sundgot-Borgen J, Kolle E, Torstveit MK, Svantorp-Tveiten KME, Bratland-Sanda S. The Norwegian Healthy Body Image Intervention promotes positive embodiment through improved self-esteem. Body Image. 2020;35:84-95. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.08.014.
- Dumitru DC, Dumitru T, Maher AJ. A systematic review of exercise addiction: examining gender differences . Journal of Physical Education and Sport. 2018;2018(03). doi:10.7752/jpes.2018.03253.