It’s been a while since I’ve posted about body image and, during that time, the conversation has only grown in mainstream media and blogging. The movement has helped many friends of mine come to grips with their own insecurities and perceptions of the way they look as well as helped educate people on where to go and who to talk to if you are struggling. However, much of this information relies on the idea that you are aware of your own body image issues and then want to address them.
So, what about those people who are struggling with the way they look but don’t recognise this behaviour as irregular? What if you’re subconsciously putting yourself down without understanding that that is what you’re doing? What if you’ve been living like this for you’re whole life and without ever being aware that you might be hurting your own confidence? Today, I wanted to talk through some common behaviours I’ve seen/heard about when discussing negative body image to help you identify the actions that lead to low body confidence.
1. You Think People Complimenting You Are Lying Or “Being Polite”
This is a common on but often mistaken for “good manners” by those who do it. If someone pays you a compliment it would be vain and egotistical to accept said comment, yes? It’s surely more polite to be modest about the way you look and brush it off. Except, if a friend or loved one does compliment you, and you then subsequently tell them they’re wrong, you’re technically telling them that you don’t value their opinion. Don’t get me wrong, you’re actions do have kind intentions but this is the truth of what you believe is being “polite”.
What you’re also doing, when shunning these comments, is telling yourself that you’re not worthy of them, that somehow this person must be mistaken or simply hasn’t looked closely enough. This is where the real damage hits home and over a period of years this can seriously affect the way you see yourself on a day-to-day basis. So, ask yourself when was the last time someone told you that you looked nice? Or they liked what you were wearing?
Did you accept it or did you believe they were lying? If yes, you know how you feel about your own body. However, don’t panic there is a simple solution (but it does take a while to get used to). Next time someone compliments you, take a brief moment to consider it and then thank them. Tell them it’s very kind of them to say and that you appreciate it. You manage to kill all 3 birds with one stone here in that:
- You validate their opinion (doesn’t hurt their feelings)
- You are polite because you thanked them
- You are consciously telling yourself you deserve this compliment
2. You Don’t Wear Certain Clothes Because They’ll “Draw Attention”
I’ve heard this many times before and it is completely understandable not wanting to “show off” or try and be the centre of attention. The issue comes when people won’t wear certain bright colours or certain cuts of clothing, they’ll refrain from wearing anything that highlights their silhouette because they’re ashamed of the idea people will look. This is heartbreaking to hear or see as one of my favourite things about personal style is discovering new designs that I’ve never tried before. Our tastes change and our style matures with us, so to hear people refrain from trying to express themselves because others might see it is one that is counter-intuitive to the nature of the way we dress.
This one is a little more nuanced but can be overvcome. Simply ask yourself whether you deserve to feel good about yourself? Deep down, do you want to experiment with a new look? What’s the worst that happens if you try it? You’ll either like the way you look/feel in it or you won’t.
Here’s a great acronym I was taught by my girlfriend when we first got together – FEAR stands for False Evidence Acting (on) Reality
If you’re scared, it’s probably mostly in your head. Don’t let that fear control you as you’ll never forgive yourself for backing down.
3. Your First Impressions In The Mirror Are Negative
“The mirror can be your greatest friend or your worst enemy.”
How do you feel when you look in the mirror each morning? Where do your eyes move to first? Do you focus on what you like or what you dislike about yourself? Do you feel like the mirror shows the worst of you? If you feel ucomfortable in front of the mirror, it’s likely due to the fact that you are being extraordinarily critical of your own body. When people refer to a mirror as being a “friend” understand that it is not just a physical reflection of you but also a reflection of how you view yourself. The areas you feel most insecure about are the ones that jump out, the ones your mind searches for and the ones you cannot forget about.
This one is the hardest to work through and takes a great deal of mental willpower. Simply put, you need to invert the way you think about your reflection. Before you look in the mirror, make a conscious effort not to look at what you don’t like first. Then, take a moment and focus on what you like about the way you look, the way you hold yourself and the way you feel about yourself. When did you last feel truly confident in the way you looked? What was it about your body that made you feel that way?
When you’re dressed, stand in a “power pose” and give yourself a moment to get comfortable in that stance. Remember, you are your worst critic but you’re also your best confidence coach. Be proud of the way you look and the way you stand, you’re deserving of all the love, compliments and confidence you get so own it and leave the negativity in your dust.
Stay Strong & Keep Body Positive
Thanks for checking out the post guys and, as always feel free to share it or like it if you enjoyed the read. Tweet me what you really like about your body with #PositiveBodyImage to help encourage discussion. If you want, you can comment (anonymously) on your own experiences with body image issues and what you have learnt from them. Maybe you’re still working through them. Maybe you don’t want to confront them. No matter what the situation, know that there is support out there and it starts with talking to someone.
You can also check out more of my posts on Body Image with advice on stopping negative thinking, building confidence and my own struggles with my body image.