“Just love yourself” is a phrase that has gained quite a lot of traction in recent years among influencers and advertising campaigns on social media. However, isn’t it ironic that these very same social media channels also promote content and products that may not have you feeling so in love with your body? This is especially true with summer looming, as the pressure to look a certain way gets even worse as hemlines rise with the temperatures.
Let’s be honest, trying to “love the skin you are in” can be so hard when we are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should look, how we should feel, and what we should purchase. Not only that, but it’s all too common to receive feedback from others on our appearance – which is more often than not unhelpful and even hurtful.
If you have experienced unwanted comments about your appearance from others, know that you are not alone. I reached out to readers to see what types of comments they have received regarding their bodies – here are just a few examples.
“You are so skinny, why don’t you eat?” to a young female in her twenties
“You look so thin!” and “how did you lose so much weight?” as a compliment to three female readers who had lost a significant amount of weight due to serious illness.
“Don’t you think you’re not really the right body type for that dress?” to a woman who had gained weight due to depression medication but still wanted to wear a more fitted style.
“Geez – you’ve gotten fat!” to a male in his thirties who had gained weight after a knee injury made it difficult for him to be as active for quite a while.
“You don’t look like a size six to me” to a woman who wears different sizes depending on the brand.
“You can’t wear black – you’ll look even skinnier” or “you should wear black – it will make you look smaller” to young women with different body shapes.
Unfortunately, people of all shapes and sizes have probably heard similar comments at some point in their life. That doesn’t make it okay, but it does mean that you are not alone in your journey.
Maintaining a Positive Body Image: 4 Practical Tips
So, how do we maintain a healthy body image when we are constantly bombarded with information, tips, and comments on how we “should” look? Here are a few practical tips to consider.
Find a strategy for dealing with comments from others.
Whether the comment is positive or negative, hearing the thoughts of others about our appearance can feel uncomfortable and even jarring. This is especially true if you have an eating disorder, or, if you are trying to gain/lose weight for health purposes.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to eliminate these comments altogether. However, we can proactively find a strategy to deal with them when they arise. For example, you can choose to simply ignore the comment and change the subject. Alternatively, you can try a more direct approach by politely letting the person know that comments about your appearance make you feel uncomfortable, and that you’d prefer not to receive comments like that in the future.
Unfollow social media pages or people that are triggering negative feelings for you.
If someone is consistently posting images or content that makes you feel bad about yourself, consider putting some distance between yourself and them, at least for a while.
Author Tyler Henry wrote on Twitter in 2018, “you can’t heal in the same environment that made you sick.” Sometimes, it takes distancing yourself from those things that have been creating anxiety in you to truly heal.
For further support on managing your mental health and social media, check out our article Being Mentally Well Online: 7 Steps to a Healthy Media Diet.
Reach out to your support system.
Regularly check in with your family and friends, and ask them to hold you accountable for checking in regarding how you are feeling about body image pressures.
There are also a variety of resources online that can offer support as well. This includes:
- National Eating Disorders Association – 10 Steps to a Positive Body Image
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder, BDD
- John Hopkins University – Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Enjoy a new activity.
Step away from the electronics to do something you enjoy…go for a walk, take an art class, get dinner with a friend. Focus on what your body CAN do, not what it cannot do. Focus on activities that excite you and interest you, regardless of whether it will bring about a body change or not.
Further Resources on Body Image
If you found this article helpful, check out these additional resources on body image and self-esteem.
- The Lily-Jo Project’s resource pages on Low Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders
- Blog article How Spending the Day at a Waterpark Helped Teach My Tween about Body Positivity
- Blog article Exercise for Mental Wellness – How to Get Mental Health Movement Moments Into Your Day
- Blog article How to Cope With Body Anxiety & Covid-19: 6 Practical Tips
Finally, at the Lily-Jo Project, we understand that maintaining a positive body image in current times can be challenging. We offer a variety of mental health content on our website (www.thelilyjoproject.com) that can be of assistance.
We also offer a public community on Facebook that provides a forum to seek support with the day-to-day questions and concerns that go with raising a family. I moderate the group, and we would love to have you. You can request to join here – looking forward to seeing you there!
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is a care coordinator for a local mental health agency in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com) – her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.