Learn to appreciate your body for what it looks like and what it does, no matter what the world thinks of it. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.
Sculpted bodies, flawless skin, and beautifully chiselled jawlines are a common sight on social media platforms. Coupled with media portrayals of what perfection is supposed to look like, it’s no wonder many of us feel the pressure to look good all the time.
Studies have found that one out of two teens in Singapore believe that they are too fat, eight in 10 want to change the way they look, and 1 in 5 would consider plastic surgery. Negative body image is pervasive because of the tendency for self-objectification, where one feels solely defined by our looks. To change this narrative, there’s a need to build body-image resilience, defined as the ability to actively pursue the things you want to do without being held back by insecurities or fears that your body isn’t perfect. With this sense of resilience, one can better appreciate and respect their body no matter what the world thinks of it.
Here are some ways to build body-image resilience:
Take a break from social media
Whenever possible, take a break from mindlessly scrolling your social media feeds or posting content. Build resilience by learning to be more critical of media messages, whether it’s an advertorial suggesting weight loss or products from brands that aren’t body inclusive. The next time you stress out over taking the perfect selfie or #OOTD (outfit of the day) for the ‘gram, do yourself a favour and post an imperfect one anyway. Over time, this might just help you to love yourself for who you are.
Focus on your self-worth
Start to view your body as an instrument, not an ornament. By focusing on your accomplishments and personality, you’ll be able to separate your self-worth from your appearance. Instead of relying on your dress size, number on the weighing scale, or the likes on your social media account, learn to lean in and listen to your body. Move in ways that make you feel alive instead of working out to merely lose weight, and eat whole and nourishing meals instead of counting calories.
Mind your language
How you perceive your body image is often reflected by the way you speak to yourself. As such, always speak kindly with positive affirmations like “I love my body and I love myself”, “I am complete just the way I am”, or “There’s more to life than worrying about my weight, and I’m ready to experience it.” When socialising, avoid giving compliments that are solely about one’s physical appearance. Instead, focus on other things that matter, like their passions, ambitions, and personality.
If it’s hard to silence your inner critic, try self-neutrality—a gentler way for you to observe your thoughts with objectivity. As opposed to self-criticism or self-compassion, self-neutrality allows you to hold space for yourself as a steppingstone towards appreciating your body for what it can do. Move away from negative opinions of your body with statements like “I am thankful to be able to walk”, “I am grateful for a healthy body”, and “I’m glad I can see, taste, and hear.”