Humans are social creatures. We are predisposed to rely on one another for survival. More than we consciously acknowledge it, society help shape us in many ways. To name a few, this includes how we interact with other people, how we develop our personality, and also how we perceive our bodies.
Because of our inherent disposition to connect with other people, how we interact physiologically and psychologically is crucial. No wonder why how society perceives us affects us on so many levels. And one of these aspects that society had so much influence over us is our body image.
What Is Body Image
Body image is both internal and external. It pertains to values and beliefs we have about our bodies. In the course of our lifetime, our body image grows, changes, and evolves. Both individual and environmental factors influence all these changes.
Our relationship with our bodies is one of the most important relationships of our lives. It is not because it is the longest, but it is one of a kind, deeply personal, and very much complex.
Nurturing a positive body image is never an easy journey. It takes a lot to get to a place where one can feel fully comfortable, accepting, and healthy with one’s body. This is especially true in this social media age, where many teens and young women struggle with positive body image.
The Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, uncovers a grim reality that social media has led to a 150% rise in suicide rates among teens and pre-teens in the US. While technology has made things more convenient and fast, one downside is how social media negatively affects our self-confidence and body image.
While it takes more than a list to turn a negative body thought into something positive, it can introduce you to healthier ways to deal with body anxiety and nurture a positive body image.
How We Can Cultivate Positive Body Image
1. Give Attention to What You Like about Your Body
Instead of focusing on what you do not like or want to change about your body, give attention to what your body does for you. One study pointed out that highlighting one’s body functionality helps in improving positive body image and well-being. Appreciation of body functionality is different for every person.
For instance, you appreciate how your legs help you get places or how your arms allow you to hug your pet. Remember, your body is much more than its appearance.
2. Surround Yourself with Positive People
You might have heard of the saying, “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.”
One way of cultivating a positive body image is by surrounding yourself with people who have learned to accept their bodies. This means people who do not engage in bad talks about their body, your body, or anyone else’s body. In short, people who do not give so much focus on appearance.
People who are body accepting are a good influence in nurturing one’s body image.
3. Be Compassionate to Yourself
“Be kind.” We all have heard and seen that slogan everywhere, and it is very relevant when we talk about body image. Learn to practice self-compassion. Remember that your body has helped you survive in many ways.
Practicing self-compassion calls us to practice kindness to ourselves as we would to a friend or a family member who is going through a hard time.
Several studies have pointed out the correlation between self-compassion and positive body image. The higher the person’s self-compassion is, the higher is the positive body image.
4. Practice Self-care
Practicing self-care is one of the excellent ways how to nurture a positive body image. Self-care is more than just retail therapy or bubble bath and wine.
Genuine self-care involves pushing yourself to become a better version of yourself. It means resolving inner conflicts, practicing positive self-talk, and being aware of inner dialogs and feelings. It means facing our inner demons. For instance, you can undergo bulimia treatments if you have been suffering from an eating disorder.
In an everyday scenario, self-care also means being attuned to what your body needs. This means getting enough sleep, hydration, stimulation, and relaxation. Be the best version of yourself.
5. Embrace Mindful Movement
If your body allows you to, engage in mindful movement. Every person’s body and ability are different. But one thing is true for everyone: moving your body could bring joy, rejuvenation, and inner peace.
Mindful movement means being attuned to our bodies. We move our bodies in a way that helps release negative energy, reduce stress, and fortify our mind-body connection.
It is more than just feeling and looking good when we talk about positive body image. It is being compassionate and loving our bodies regardless of how it looks. While this list is not comprehensive enough, this is a start in fostering a positive body image.