Are you tired of reading quotes about loving your body and not getting it? You’re not alone! Body love is hard to achieve. There are other ways to increase your body image. Let me explain.
Body love is the idea that you can love our body. While not impossible, this becomes complicated because so many people have different definitions of love, and loving relationships take a lot of different forms. Because love is so complicated, figuring out how to love your body can be a challenging task.
Another challenge with body love is that folks get caught up in the idea that to truly love your body you must believe it’s beautiful. And if you could just get the right haircut, lose a few pounds, contour your makeup, and/or find the most flattering outfits that you can convince yourself that your body is attractive enough to love. Again, this goes back to the complicated definitions of love. Is love romantic? If this is the kind of love your are envisioning, then you may believe that you must look attractive in order to love your body.
I have found that body love leaves a lot of people confused and disappointed. There are many ways to have a positive body image even if you don’t love your body. Some concepts that my clients have found that promote positive body image are body neutrality, and body appreciation, and body compassion.
Body neutrality describes the idea that your body is neither good nor bad. It just is. You have a body to live in, and that’s that. Some bodies are beautiful, some are ugly, and some are in between. Some are tall, some are short. Some are round, some are angular. Some are soft, some are hard. Some are dark, some are light. Some are large, some are small. Some have scars, and some do not. There are so many ways that nature can make a body, and so many ways that our bodies can develop in our environment. It’s truly a wonder!
When you adopt the idea that your body is neutral, you learn to move past the need to change it. You can tolerate it—even accept it—the way it is right now. The idea is that you can take your body with you to enjoy life no matter what it looks like. For example, “I can take my body to a restaurant and enjoy good food and good friends.” Because it’s neither good nor bad. “I can fulfill my role as a mother because the way my body looks doesn’t stop my from being there for my children.” Body neutrality allows you to get over how our body looks and get on with living life.
Body gratitude is another helpful tool on the journey to positive body image that helps you be more aware of the ways that your body is serving you. Many of my clients have made lists of things that they appreciate about their bodies. They may write down things like, “I appreciate my legs for taking me around,” or “I appreciate my belly for carrying and growing a baby,” or “I appreciate my ears so that I can hear lovely music,” or “I am thankful for my heart that continues to keep me alive without me consciously telling it to beat.” The more you look for ways to appreciate your body, the longer the list grows.
Some clients have been grateful that their body is their home. If you think of our body as a home, you can begin to understand the ways that it has protected, soothed, and kept you safe and sheltered. Your body can become a safe place to go to when you need respite.
Other clients have been grateful that their body is a loyal companion. It has been with you from the beginning, and it will stick with you until the end. It doesn’t judge, but continually serves you, carrying out your dreams and desires. Your body will be there through your joys and sorrows, your pain and pleasure. Your body knows you, and you can learn to get to know our body in return. Using these ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude toward your body really can change your perspective and help you be ok in your body.
The last way to improve body image without having to love your body is to find compassion for your body. No matter what your body looks like, you can find reasons to respect it for all that it has done and been through. If you can’t love your body, can you be it’s friend? Can you allow your body to take the course it’s meant to take, without harsh judgments? Can you support your body’s efforts to take care of you? Even if you don’t love your body, can you offer your body the dignity of eliminating criticisms and disappointments about your physical self? Can you broker peace with your body and stop trying to fight it? Next time you find yourself treating your body with cruelty, try to come from a place of understanding and offer yourself compassion instead.
So even it you haven’t achieved a place of body love, you can still find a positive perspective on your body. You can try body neutrality, body appreciation, or body compassion. All can move you toward a more positive body image. What has worked for you in your journey toward a more positive body image?