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A Fun and Practical Guide to Building Positive Body Image

Here is a question for you:

How do you feel about your body right now?

If you immediately did not answer “amazing” or “great” or any such synonyms, fret not! You aren’t alone. Most of us are struggling with having a healthier outlook and positive acceptance of our body image.

So, what exactly do we mean by body image? Body image is complex, and it relates to attention to one's body shape and weight. As both weight and shape are under your control, we assume it to be our responsibility to fix it. 

The way we perceive ourselves has hugely been impacted by increasing social media consumption, advertisement, and media across various mediums (TV, radio, print, etc). Interestingly, one survey conducted indicated that 89% of women face body image issues after reading social media comments. While as early as 13-14 years of age, boys start feeling conscious of their bodies and about 30-40% of people with eating disorders are male.   

Why do you think we are taking in numbers and statistics? The reason is that body image impacts mental health. Research has shown that it is associated with the development of eating disorders, low self-esteem, and several concerning outcomes.  

After this quick check on the impacts and statistics of body image, the pressing question is:

‘How do we develop and build a positive image?’ 

Below we discuss some creative and practical tips that you can use or probably suggest to your peers too. Be a promoter of body positivity.

  • Come up with 2 positives for every negative comment or perception about your body. Do you feel your stomach isn’t flat or your thighs have some extra fat?  Now counter these negative thoughts with 2 positive things about your body. If you can’t find something positive about your body, mention something positive about yourself or life in general. This process will help you develop a more positive outlook and habit.
  • Ask yourself this: “Would I ever say this to my best friend/sister/brother/mother?” This will help you develop a different perspective. Every time you come up with a negative statement or comment about yourself, ask yourself the question. The reason this works is that we are easy to criticize ourselves but are quite compassionate towards our loved ones.
  • Immediately exit social media if it triggers or makes you feel bad about yourself. Social media is an addictive and inexplicable part of our lives, but we can learn to not let it control our perceptions. Use the above exit strategy, follow people/pages that promote body positivity and try to take a digital detox occasionally.
  • Pick up a physical activity that brings you delight. Don’t exercise or follow activities that feel like a punishment! Love dancing? or Swimming? or just Walking? Do those! The things you enjoy doing are the ones you are more likely to repeat. So, make your exercise and activity sessions about what excites you. You could even keep switching your activities, so you have something different to look forward to every time.
  • Pamper yourself! Here is an off-beat idea to help you deal with those days when you are sad or can not find anything good about yourself. Get yourself your favourite treat or get your hair done or simply take a calming bath. You can just put on a nice outfit and have a day out to celebrate yourself. Do what makes you feel good about yourself. 
  • Learn to remind yourself of how your body is working to keep you alive and going. Keep sticky notes or reminders on your phone or repeat positive self-affirmations. Make these reminders visible, put them on the fridge door, on the mirror or make them your phone's wallpaper or screensaver. These little things will help you stay positive and provide a little boost of motivation as well as confidence in yourself. 

Just know that at some point or the other we all go through body image issues. But there is hope and ways to tackle it. When things seem to go out of hand, seek professional help. HappiMynd is a platform that offers confidential and online counselling sessions with experts for your issues and has web-based applications that provide personalized activities regularly to build positive habits and emotional resilience. Arm yourself with these basic tips and learn to embrace your body, positively.