Body Image/Healthy Body/My Life/Teen Life 5 Things That Aren’t Helping Your Body Image by Christina Mead There are two kinds of people in this world, the people who struggle with body image and the people who lie about it. I think that no matter how confident you are, or how much your hair and outfit looks like it’s straight from Urban Outfitters, there’s always a part of us that is afraid we’re not good enough. Which is no surprise when skinny, photoshopped people are held as the ideal in almost everything we see advertised. So yes, having a low body image is a thing. But let’s not make the fact that we struggle with body image one more reason to beat ourselves up. Isn’t the first step of healing from something admitting it’s a problem? It’s difficult to let go of the constant, vicious cycle of body monitoring (pulling at your clothes, positioning your body just right) and the inner dialogue that sounds like this: “Do I look okay? Do I look okay? Do I look okay?” It is possible to get to a better, more peaceful place in your mind, but here are 5 things that aren’t helping: 1. Sucking in your stomach for photos. Or hiding parts of your body. Or deleting all the photos where you don’t look as perfect as you know you’re capable of looking if you put everything in it’s place. You’re the only one over-analyzing your body. If your best friend isn’t a size negative 7, do you love them less? No! People feel the same way about you. Relax. It’s not your arms but your heart that people care about. 2. Buying clothes for the size you want to be. This is like buying peanut butter for the day when you get over your anaphylactic, face-swelling, peanut allergy. If you buy clothes that fit right, you’ll be happier with yourself today and mentally in a better place to continue to pursue a wholesome, healthy lifestyle. 3. Talking about how fat you are. Just stahp. If you want to eat a cookie, eat the darn cookie and don’t announce to the whole room that it’s your “cheat day” or that you’re going to the gym later. You’re assuming everyone is judging you and all it does it highlight your own insecurities. Your own words have the most power over your mind. In the words of Christine Arylo (it’s okay, I don’t know who she is either . . .): “Be nice to yourself. It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time.” 4. Commenting on how someone looks as soon as you see them. It gives priority to something that shouldn’t have priority (outward appearance) and conditions us to believe that looks are everything. Which is clearly bologna because Shrek and Fiona are actually very lovable. 5. Beating yourself up. If you just realized you ate more than your date, and simultaneously failed your 7-day-miserable-chicken-and-carrots-crash-diet. Food is a good thing that God made to fuel our bodies. Starving yourself in anticipation of your prom or group beach trip will only make you unhappy and really hungry for chocolate. You are more than your thighs. Obsessively counting calories isn’t helping you to love yourself. You’re not free to live life abundantly if you’re a slave to the mirror. It’s possible to feel awesome whether you’re a size 0 or size 22. Maybe it’ll take doing a self-examination of your thought patterns 50 times a day… or maybe it’ll take reminding yourself yourself you’re beautiful every time you look in the mirror. Do whatever it takes. Give yourself permission to love yourself… however you look today. If you want to permenantly kick your body-image-black-cloud, focus on being healthy inside and out… don’t focus on the number on the scale, or the muffin top in the mirror. God made us all to be unique. How sad it is that we all want to be the same size, shape, and style. I’m praying for you.