In this world obsessed with obtaining physical perfection, it’s easy to get caught up in impossible beauty standards and the social pressures to meet them. With each new innovation in the plastic surgery industry, it seems like going under the knife is becoming not only more acceptable, but almost expected- especially for young women. Social media and advertising continuously bombards us all with images of the “perfect human form”, typically obtained through lunchtime Botox or secret trips to Dr. Miami. Yet still, we begin to play the dangerous game of comparison, finding imperfections to nitpick and obsess over.
Issues with body image can lead to a great number of consequences including eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. For some, the desire to escape these negative thoughts and emotions is the gateway to substance abuse and addiction. Because addiction is rooted in this socially imposed self-hate, the key to recovery and overcoming a substance abuse disorder is body positivity and learning to love yourself again- inside and out. Start with these 4 tips:
#1: Surround Yourself with Body Positivity
Step away from the things that are fueling your negative self-perception and surround yourself with body positivity instead! While we believe all bodies are beautiful, lack of representation for less-modelesque body types can leave you feeling unattractive or inferior- that’s not true. Following body positive blogs, websites, and social media accounts is a great place to start by surrounding yourself with a different perspective on beauty.
Follow Instagram accounts that promote self-love; keep up with body positivity blogs and websites. Read articles and books focusing on self-care and healthy habits. If you have goals you want to reach concerning your health and fitness, research ways to achieve them in a safe and healthy manner. Above all else, insure your motives are born from good intentions, and not internalized hate. You are beautiful at any size, any form, and with all your imperfections.
#2: Practice Mindfulness
Unfortunately our society is constantly bombarding us with a very narrow concept of beauty, instilling the idea that if we do not meet these impossible beauty standards we are unattractive or unworthy of love. This could not be further from the truth- keeping that reality at the forefront of your mind is fundamental to learning to embrace body positivity. It’s okay to find the images you see beautiful or even inspirational: as long as you also remember that those images don’t define you or beauty in itself. Don’t allow Photoshop and augmented bodies to wound your confidence and self-love. Celebrate beauty in all its forms- including yours!
#3: Take Your Time
Overcoming years of negative self-perception doesn’t happen overnight. Just like recovery from addiction, it requires you to work through the underlying emotional and mental roots of your negative body perception. You have to be both patient and dedicated to the process: expecting miracles overnight will result in nothing more resentment and self-sabotage. Do one thing each day that helps improve your self-esteem and teaches you to love your body. Try out daring new outfits regardless of rather society thinks your body type looks good in them. Take on small fitness goals for the health benefits rather than the aesthetic changes. Breaking down those mental barriers also helps to challenge them in others, allowing them to embrace their creativity and self-love rather than strict fashion trends.
#4: Reflect- Literally
There are two mortal enemies to people with body issues: the scale and the mirror. Ironically, both of these inanimate objects become the focus of our obsessions. We convince ourselves that reaching a certain number on the scale or seeing a specific image in the mirror will bring happiness and healing- it won’t. While it’s perfectly fine to work toward a goal, we must recognize that addressing our self-perceptions is the key to achieving true body positivity at any size.
The mirror often seems to be your best friend or your loudest critic, but the reality is that what you see staring back at you is more a reflection of your mental state than anything else. Instead of allowing you eyes to be immediately drawn to those “imperfections” or “problem areas”, observe your beauty and strength. Your body is uniquely yours, embrace it!
While you’re at it, begin each day with a simple mantra for all you have to be grateful for and your goals for the day regarding your recovery and mental health. It’s okay if some days that goal is simply making it through the day as best you can.