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October 16, 2014

8 Ideas to Help Improve Body Image

By Katie Teresi

It may surprise people to know that body image is much more than what you see in the mirror. In fact, it spans how you picture yourself in your mind, what you believe about your own appearance, and what you think about your weight, height, and shape. It even covers how you feel in your own body.

Being a complex of a concept as it is, the journey to improve body image isn’t an easy one. It takes time and dedication. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work towards a positive sense of self-appreciation:

  1. Positive People, Positive Mind: Spend time with people who build you up and love you for your brain, personality, and abilities. Being surrounded by their positivity and values can help you develop your self-esteem to depend on factors other than your looks.
  2. Your Body Deserves A Medal: When you really think about it, it’s pretty amazing what your body does every day. Breathing, walking, smiling, yoga, laughing…take time to revel in and really appreciate everything that your body lets you do every day.
  3. List, List, List: Take a few moments to write 5 things you like about your appearance. Then write down 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with appearance. Keep these lists handy to review on days when you’re not feeling as confident about yourself.
  4. TV, Magazines, and Movies, oh my: The figures we see every day in the media can have a powerful effect on how we view ourselves. Be selective and smart about what you’re reading and watching. Remember, the majority of the people presented by the media do not reflect the population as a whole. Oftentimes, they have been digitally enhanced to look impossibly perfect.
  5. See the Whole You: Your body can do what it can do because each part works together. So, when you look in the mirror, try not to zoom in and focus on individual parts of your body. Instead, see your body as a whole person.
  6. See Activity in a New Light: When your body feels healthy, it’s easier for your mind to feel healthy. In fact, research has shown that committing to a healthy amount of activity and a well-balanced diet has been scientifically proven to improve body image and self-esteem. Listen to your body, it tells you what it needs.
  7. Stop Comparing: Make a conscious effort to stop comparing your body to those around you. Remind yourself that everyone has their own unique build and comparing your body to theirs can leave you feeling jealous, discontent, and inferior.
  8. Dress to Impress (Yourself): When you go shopping and get dressed, pick out clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good about yourself. Pick out colors and cuts that make you look and feel your best—don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help!

At The Emily Program, we know that recovery from an eating disorder is possible. And that each person will have a unique experience getting there. Self-love and body confidence are not always easy to embrace — for anyone. However, if we each give ourselves more praise and positive self-talk than criticism, we can learn to accept and love ourselves as we are, and as those around us already do. So go ahead, tell yourself you are smart, brave, resilient, honest, a good friend/wife/husband/mom/dad/person, and more. You are you, and you are amazing!

Get help. Find hope.