Thanks to the increasing awareness of how media, culture, and society affects our perception of our bodies, the conversation around body image is growing. However, while awareness is rising, many still struggle with a negative body image. In a survey conducted by the magazine Good Housekeeping, the majority of the respondents revealed that they were unhappy with their bodies, with 17% admitting that they would trade years of their life in exchange for their ideal body.
Poor body image doesn’t just affect one person, either. Being dissatisfied with how your body looks can also push people, especially women, to extreme diets and workouts—thus endangering their physical health. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While learning to accept and love your body may not happen overnight, taking the following steps helps ensure you’re on the path to breaking the cycle and taking better control of your body image and overall health.
Shifting the focus away from weight and toward health
More often than not, the way most people feel about themselves is largely tied to their body weight, shape, or size. This is why the path to self-empowerment starts with taking the focus away from how your body looks and instead valuing how your body works hard to keep you healthy.
To help with this, it’s essential to understand that the overweight vs obesity range only exists to delineate the health risks that amplify as one’s body mass index (BMI) increases, such as the risk for heart disease and hypertension. The weight classification system is not meant to shame nor stigmatize individuals but to help us better understand the body’s natural functions and physiological processes. Even then, your weight and BMI are only pieces of the larger puzzle of health and wellness, which means you also have to look at other health markers like stress levels and sleep quality when aiming for fitness.
Tapping into the philosophies of body positivity and neutrality
In this age of social media, changing the type of content you consume and engage with can also make a big difference in how you feel about your body and yourself in general. A study involving young women found that content from body acceptance movements can significantly improve self-image, with the participants maintaining these improvements weeks after viewing the content.
These inclusive movements include body positivity, which encourages acceptance of all bodies regardless of size, shape, and appearance. There’s also body neutrality, a relatively newer philosophy that aims to recognize the body simply for what it is and what it’s capable of doing. Whichever mindset you find yourself more comfortable with, they both help transform feelings of shame into compassion—allowing you to feel more connected and attuned with your body.
Rejecting and rebelling against body standards
Beyond focusing on health and acceptance, there’s also value in truly owning who you are by going against our culture’s prevailing body standards. Similar to how we can put an end to beauty culture by rejecting patriarchal conventions and notions of anti-aging, we can also further empower ourselves by dismantling our idea of what a ‘perfect’ body is supposed to look like. These efforts can take many forms, from wearing what you want without worrying about what looks ‘flattering’ for your figure to trying exercises that emphasize health and not weight or appearance.
The truth is navigating this journey won’t be as simple and clear-cut as you want it to be. But on top of your support networks, From Molly With Love is devoted to helping you out every step of the way, through our all-natural skincare products, stress relievers, and yoga and meditation tools that focus on what feels—not looks—good for your health and lifestyle.