You may have read some of these stats before:
- 2 out of 5 women and 1 out of 5 men would trade 3-5 years of their life to achieve their weight goals.
- One study found that women overestimated the size of their hips by 16% and their waists by 25% but were able to correctly estimate the width of a box.
- After looking at images of female fashion models, 7 out of 10 women felt more depressed and angry.
Apart from the beginning of bathing suit season, there’s no other time of year that tends to bubble up body image issues than the holidays. It may be the emotional nature of this time of year, anxiety about visiting distant friends and family members you haven’t seen in months, the barrage of holiday parties and goodies and less time to work out, or the reality that another year is coming to a close. With all the potential triggers, it can be easy to give into some negative self talk, but two key strategies can help you find some peace:
Mandatory self-admiration. Make a list of at least 5 things you’re grateful your body can do and reflect on it at least once a day. I live in NYC and see famous people on a regular if not daily basis. Yesterday I was carrying a heavy bag of groceries in each hand and I walked by a famous model/actress on the street walking her dog. Even with no make-up she was absolutely stunning and I immediate thought to myself, “OK, I’m grateful that my body is strong enough to carry these groceries the 15 blocks home from the market.” It may seem silly but this is a strategy I’ve taught in many body image workshops and it really does help. Putting the focus on appreciating your body takes the focus off of the imperfections you see.
Check your self talk. In workshops, I’ve asked women to say exactly what they’re thinking while looking in a mirror. They typically don’t want to, partly because it’s so private, partly because it’s so mean and partly because saying it seems more harsh than thinking it. But facing those thoughts is important, because even unspoken, they deeply affect how you feel. Negative self talk leads to negative emotions, which can trigger depression or cause you to want to punish yourself or cope in an unhealthy way, like starving, over exercising, binge eating or allowing others to not treat you well. If you catch yourself being nasty in your mind, stop and ask yourself, “Would I say that out loud to my best friend?” Focus on treating yourself, including how you talk to yourself, like you would treat the person you love and care about the most. I know it’s not something you can transform over night, but this switch can impact your emotions and behaviors in ways that can dramatically improve your relationship with food and your health.
Do you struggle with your body image? According to the research, over 60% of adults do. What helps or hinders how you feel? Please share!