Boost your body love

It’s time to let go of the body baggage. True contentment isn’t as elusive as you think...

Boost your body love

If you’ve ever compared your body shape to a celebrity or wished you were blessed with a friend’s figure, you’re not alone. But have you ever wondered why we have such a cookie-cutter concept of beauty? According to Christine Morgan, CEO of The Butterfly Foundation, an organisation dedicated to treating and supporting Australians affected by eating disorders and negative body image, it’s largely due to our appearance-obsessed culture. “The only way to assess our looks is to compare ourselves to others, and there begins a never-ending, never-satisfying quest to look as good, or even better, than other women or men,” says Morgan.

Wanting to fit in drives this behaviour, explains clinical psychologist Catherine Boland. “Unfortunately, the rise of social media, advertising imagery and other promotions of the ‘ideal female’, have escalated negative self-comparison.”

The dangers of comparison 

So, what’s the real problem with playing this game and comparing? “Thinking about flaws and wishing things were different impacts on self-esteem, which can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours,” Boland explains. This behaviour leaves you less likely to stick to positive health and body goals because you’ve defeated yourself before you even started. The harm doesn’t end there. “By coupling together self-worth with physical looks, you’re ignoring the importance of people’s values, skills and personality,” reminds Morgan.

Find a healthy role model

Someone who constantly puts themselves down or wants surgery to change the skin they’re in is far from an ideal role model. “But if you admire a person who’s comfortable with their body, happy with their size and shape, and celebrating their wellbeing, then that is a positive role model,” says Morgan.

Celebrate your achievements

Not sure how to ditch the negative comparisons? Start by celebrating your achievements. “Ask yourself, ‘This year, month and week, what are the positive health changes I’ve made and stuck to?’,” says Boland. “Lifestyle-related rewards, like a massage or haircut, are another way to stay positive while losing weight.” Focusing on your body’s functionality, rather than its size or shape, is also essential. “Think about your strength, posture or your body’s capacity to repair itself,” says Boland.

Focus on self-acceptance

“Spend time focusing on the aspects of your body that you like, whether that’s your skin, hair, smile, waist or hands. Focus on self-acceptance and sensible health and weight-loss goals that you can maintain for life,” says Boland.

Morgan also recommends taking the pressure off losing weight. “Celebrate health improvements, such as increased fitness, energy, flexibility and endurance, rather than just the numbers that are associated with weight loss.”

The bigger picture revealed

Still too hard on yourself? Look at the bigger picture. “Respect your body’s history,” says Morgan. “It may have given birth, overcome an illness or injury or, more simply, been the vehicle that’s carried you through life so far – no easy task!” And remember: body image is a feeling; some days you’ll feel good about yourself, other days not so much. Above all else, avoid ‘fat talk’. Flush out the negative with appreciation and gratitude. Beauty and health come in a range of different shapes and sizes, and you lose a clear picture of the wonderful things that are there while you are busy trying to be somebody else.