Both men and women suffer from body dissatisfaction, especially in Western culture. Here are some tips to improve body image:
- Notice what is RIGHT
The NEGATIVITY BIAS many of us have means that when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we see flaws. Instead of focusing on perceived flaws, notice features that you like. For example, notice those beautiful eyes! Your sexy feet! Or your hair, that calls out for your date’s hand to run through!
- Experience the body as an INSTRUMENT rather than an ORNAMENT
We all have a body. We all have a choice about the kind of relationship we have with our body. If we experience our body as an instrument of pleasure, the focus is on all the body can do for us and provide us. It is through our body that we experience sensory pleasures, like the warmth of the sun on our skin. If we experience our body as an ornament, we are inclined to focus on what we think our body looks like (which is often a distorted perception), and how to make it look ‘better’. Wanting to improve our looks is natural and benign, unless it is a preoccupation, which at times is the case with negative body image. Instead of harping on the cellulite on your legs, for example, thank your legs for their strength and ability to walk.
- Emphasize INSIDE- OUT instead of OUTSIDE- IN
When we focus on what we look like, we are focused on our outer self, our appearance, and how closely we approximate some sort of ideal standard of attractiveness. This means we let our self esteem be determined by someone else. When we have an inside- out approach, our first and foremost emphasis is on how we feel. In this way we are validating our worth based on just being who we are, rather than having it contingent on others’ standards. Who would you rather allow determine your self esteem? You or whomever happens to be looking at you?
Feeling comfortable and ‘at home’ in your body is your birthright. It is worth the effort! Try it and discover for yourself the benefits of better body image.