Body dissatisfaction has become a more frequent visitor the past month, and while I don’t care to read too much into it, it’s probably a combination of feeling overwhelmed in other areas of my life and gaining weight.
But no matter the cause, body dissatisfaction is nobody’s favorite feeling. And while I’m much more adept at handling it now than I was a year or two ago, that doesn’t mean it never pops up. Perhaps some of you are in this place now too, so I figured I’d share some things I do that pretty reliably boost me out of the body dissatisfaction sphere. I hope they’re helpful!
Look at your body in the mirror—seriously, as if you’re studying it. Every time a negative thought pops up, question it: “Why”? Why do I find this inherently ugly? What makes me think that my body “supposed” to look different? Why do I need to listen to society’s oppressive beauty ideals at the expense of my own wellbeing?
Scroll through your body-positive safe haven instagram feed. Some of my favorites to follow are @scarrednotscared @glitterandlazers @laurathomasphd @bodyposipanda @bodyimagetherapist @whollyhealed @maryscupofteaa @fatgirlflow @allisonkimmey @shooglet and @chr1styharrison (more on my recs highlight on instagram)!
Take a picture of yourself. I like to use snapchat, instagram, or the Huji app—it gives your pictures a cool old-timey feel and it’s free to download. Add fun filters and emojis until you have a picture that you can look at and think “hey, that’s kinda cute'“—even if you’re mostly just looking at the rainbows you’ve added to the picture.
Remind yourself that diets DO NOT WORK, like at ALL, in the long term. I know that if I am to ever decide that I wanted to switch back from intuitive eating, I’m setting myself up for failure, increased binge eating, probable weight gain (not a bad thing, but also something to remind yourself of if you’re contemplating dieting because your goal is probably not to gain weight), and digging myself deeper into a messed-up relationship with food. This helps me re-affirm that dieting is NOT, and will never be, an option for me.
Go back and look at a recent picture of yourself that I you like. Realistically, your body has not changed between few days ago and now.
Spend a minute dwelling on what it’s like to restrict food. Set a timer, and actually spend one minute thinking realistically about what it felt (or feels or would feel) like to be constantly hungry, to not be able to eat certain food groups, to be constantly body-checking, to be spending mental energy tallying calories and numbers on a scale. Still want that?
Ask yourself what you really need. We often take our anger or frustration about other parts of our lives, out on our bodies. Some questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling frustrated with your body: Is there something deeper I’m upset or worried about? Do I feel lonely? Full? Scared? Bored? Tired? Do I just need a break from working? Do I need to call my mom/friend/spouse/sibling? Do I need a reminder that I am loved & valued? What is the best way for me to get that reminder? (Some suggestions: Call or text a loved one, look through old photos/cards, memories, spent time journaling or praying, go outside and be with your thoughts…)
Make a list—or refer back to a list you’ve already made—of all the things you love about yourself that have nothing to do with your body. Sometimes the most satisfying way for me to deal with bouts of body dissatisfaction is for me to remind myself that I’m not a body, that I’m everything outside it, and that honesty? My body doesn’t really matter.
I hope some of those suggestions are helpful—as you can see, they’re exactly what I do when I start feeling down about my body. Remember—I’m right here with y’all. I still need walk through this too. If you’re reading this: I love you and believe in your ability to be there for yourself, to treat yourself with compassion and love and understanding. Know that it’s a practice that gets easier every time. <3