“Body image” has been a heated controversy in the past few years, with eating disorders increasingly appearing among teenage girls and the media portraying unrealistic expectations for looks. We read a magazine, then look in the mirror and complain about how we wish we looked like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. Our mental representation of our body, or our “body image,” is often a combination of what we think we look like compared to how others view us. In today’s photoshop society, it’s easy to believe your body image isn’t good enough. But loving yourself is one of the healthiest and most important things to do, especially in today’s world.
Here are tips from neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez on how to stop hating your body image:
Forget the diet hype.
Diets aren’t real! They are just temporary solutions, and in order to make them benefit you, you must form them into habit. If you’re just focused on dieting to diet, you’re doing it wrong. You need to focus on improving your lifestyle as a whole and feeling good about yourself always, not just for a month.
Put body image in perspective.
It’s easy to get caught up in your body image and think your world is crashing down because you don’t have a rock-hard six pack. But compare it to other aspects of life that are going really well, like your education, health, or even the fact that you’re worrying over this and not wrinkles. Working to be fit and healthy is definitely important but it should never consume your life.
Know your body and accept it.
In the wise words of Lady Gaga, you were born this way. Obviously you should work to make your body the best it can possibly be, but don’t push limits that are simply unrealistic. You were given your father’s height or your mother’s large hips for a reason, find the best way to put these qualities to use.
Celebrities are not “average” people!
A very important fact to remember is that the Victoria’s Secret models are paid to train to look the way they are and their dieting prior to photoshoots and runways isn’t healthy. Just because you don’t look like them or other celebrities does not mean you are in any way below average looking. Celebrities have photoshop, extended training and dieting strategies, along with a team of makeup professionals to make them look that way.
Focus on what you have the power to change.
We can 100% work to be as fit as possible, but there are some aspects of our body image that we can’t change. Instead of wishing you were a few inches taller, focus on the things you can change, like toning up with yoga or pilates or growing a talent of yours.
Surround yourself with beauty.
I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again – declutter your life to declutter your body and soul. Clear out all the mess in your room and around your home and this will lead to a clear mind. Surround yourself with your favorite music, fresh flowers, or decorations to make yourself and your home feel and look beautiful.
Ask for help if you need it.
No one is perfect and it is okay if you slip up sometimes. Surround yourself with positive friends and family who help you grow, not push you down. No matter what you need – whether it is a workout buddy or someone to assure you that you’re beautiful, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many people who love and care about you and want to see your success – find them and keep them close.
The gist of this all is to love the way you look, feel, and are. You were made this way for a reason. We all have flaws and those flaws are just as beautiful as any seemingly perfect feature someone might have. Accept what you cannot change, change what you can, and love yourself in the process.