Evidence Based

10 Steps to a Positive Body Image

The ‘picture of health’ is dimensionless, ageless, colorless, but definitively smiling. A healthy body doesn’t have an ideal look. Rather, it encompasses a positive attitude.

You may have the most enviable body among women on the planet, but Sister, if you hate it, are you healthy? Whether or not you realize it, having a negative body image can affect a person’s health. 

The World Health Organization defines health as, “complete physical, mental and social well-being.” No ‘look’ mentioned.

Improve both your health and happiness by gaining a more positive body image with the self-esteem activities below.

What Exactly Is Body Image?

The NEDC breaks down body image into four components:

Perceptual Body ImageHow you see your body

I want nothing more for you than to see a beautiful, smiling, strong woman when you look in the mirror–a woman that is not blinded by seeming “imperfections.” How do you see your body?

Affective Body ImageHow you feel about your body 

Your body is freakin’ incredible! It is deserving of feelings of sincere gratitude and deep appreciation. How do you feel about your body?

Cognitive Body ImageWhat you think about your body 

Dear lady, your body is strong, capable, and worthwhile. Truly. What do you believe about your body?

Behavioral Body ImageHow you behave as a result of your body image

Do you treat your body with good wholesome eating, regular physical activity, and quality sleep?

Positive Body Image

So, as you can see, your body image all comes down to how you perceive yourself. A positive body image requires self-esteem, a positive attitude, and emotional stability. 

  • Self-esteem is the product of how you feel about and value yourself as an entire being. Do you know of your immense value?
  • A positive attitude is not overt optimism. Rather it is taking into account and accepting your limitations as well as your strengths. Hun, you ain’t perfect. And that’s okay! There is so much power in owning your weaknesses.
  • Emotional Stability relates to being able to rely on our own feelings and thoughts despite the negativity and criticism of others. Ms. Taylor Swift taught us best that haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. The ability to shake it off is emotional stability.

Activities to Improve Your Body Image

Practice Self-Compassion

Girl, I know you. You’re sweet, loving, patient, and would do anything for any and all people… except for yourself.

New research demonstrates that practicing self-compassion–having compassion for yourself just as you would for anyone else–can lead to body acceptance and a healthy body image amid negative social pressures to look a certain way.

  1. Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in pictures do you pick apart specific parts of your body? You are a whole being, my dear!
  2. Mindfully write down your feelings, expressing your pain in relation to your body image. Then respond to yourself with care and kindness, recognizing that imperfections are part of the human experience.

Practice Mindfulness

I know you’re a busy woman, but do you take the time to notice the sights and smells around you? Are you aware of your body’s sensations?

Research suggests that regularly practicing mindfulness can increase feelings of peace and contentment and promote positive body image. 

  1. Breathe with purpose, particularly when dealing with strong emotions.
  2. Pay close attention to your senses at any given moment. How often do sights, sounds, and smells slip through your conscious awareness? Your glorious body is on-the-ready to absorb and experience life all around you.
  3. Know that your thoughts and feelings don’t define you. They come and go. Let those negative impressions wash over you instead of letting them penetrate into you and spiral you down.

Practice Gratitude
Tell me if this sounds familiar? “I’m not thin enough, not tan enough, not smooth enough…” the list goes on and on, am I right? It boils down to: “I’m not enough.” Consider this quote from Melody Beattie: 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”

Gratitude turns your body into enough, and more! Research is showing that practicing gratitude can improve your body acceptance.

  1. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—tap into what you like about yourself! It can be as simple as your beating heart and your eyes allowing you to see. Keep it close by. Revisit it. Add to it. Watch your positivity grow! 
  2. Write a letter to a part of your body that you struggle with. Be open and honest. “Thighs, I don’t care for your cellulite.” Then, turn around and tell this part of your body how grateful you are for what it does. “But, thank you for helping me stand tall every day.” 

Get Out in Nature
Fascinating research shows that being out in nature or even appreciating nature through photographs can improve positive body image. 

girl in nature to help with positive body image

  1. Plant a garden. Feel the warmth of the sun and awe in the lovely sights and smells.
  2. Spend a weekend unplugged. Immerse yourself in nature and go on a camping trip–without your phone! Take a break from the pressures of life and social media.
  3. Hit the trails. Take a hike, Lady! Literally, lol. Take a friend and get your daily physical activity on. 

In Conclusion

Dear Girl, I implore you to delight in your body with its unique dimensions, colors, and textures. Delight in its existence, its sensations, its abilities regardless of anyone’s approval or disapproval. Your exquisitely-designed body—able to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, move, think, feel, love—was created for you.

I want you to take the following quote from Glennon Doyle Melton to heart:

“Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.”