Health & wellbeing

Have you got body envy?

Always comparing yourself with others and feeling like you fall short? Turn it to your advantage, and soon you’ll be the woman everyone wants to be...

Accept that we all compare
The first step in dealing with body envy is to remember that we’re hard-wired to measure ourselves against others – it helps us understand our place in the world. ‘We have a natural desire to rate all aspects of ourselves against others, including our bodies,’ says Professor Sarah Grogan of Manchester Metropolitan University, author of Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women & Children. ‘Research shows that men and women compare themselves with friends and celebrities from the age of eight.’

Share your experience
Talking about comparisons you’re making can open up avenues of inspiration. ‘One of the best antidotes to envy is to get it out there,’ explains psychologist Honey Langcaster-James. ‘Say you have a friend who’s losing weight faster than you are. Have an honest conversation, perhaps saying, “I’m feeling really demotivated and you seem to be doing so well – what tips can you give me?” You’ll find it can be very useful, and your friend might need help with something, too.’

Watch for the warning signs
The problem with social comparison is that it can tip into anxiety because you’re constantly looking for your own flaws. ‘It reinforces a sense of self-rejection,’ explains comparison coach Lucy Sheridan (proofcoaching.com). ‘But all positive change starts with awareness.’ So, train yourself to spot the warning signs. ‘Become aware of when you’re comparing and immediately try to counter it by looking for something good about yourself,’ says Honey. ‘That way, you stay balanced.’

Get competitive (in a good way)
Use comparison as a motivational tool on your get-healthy journey. By buddying up with someone who has the same focus, you can help keep yourself on track. ‘Whether you send motivational updates to each other or you get together to exercise, you can use your competitive feelings in a positive way to help you concentrate on your goals,’ says Lucy.

Be your own BFF
It’s time to be kind to yourself. ‘Be your own best friend,’ says Honey. ‘Consider how you treat someone you care about – you compliment and encourage them.’ And reframe those negative feelings: ‘You are different, unique, special,’ says Lucy. ‘Don’t let envy hold you back from creating the life and body you want.’