Every woman has moments when body image concerns creep in and take over. How can we not, when we are flooded with messages linking our worth to an un-reachable beauty ideal? Those body-worries don’t just keep you distracted from issues that matter much more to you than how you look, they can also feed anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.  Here are some ways to fight that feeling of beauty sickness so that you can step away from the mirror and get back to changing the world. After all, we’ve got a lot of important work to do.  Let’s reclaim some of that time we spend despairing about our body and get back to the business of making a difference.

Renee Engeln

Renee Engeln

  1. Make a list of three things that matter most to you in life. Take a few minutes to think about why those things mean something to you. Keep that list with you and look it over when you start to feel the pull of beauty sickness.
  2. Take a moment to consider everything your body does to get you through every day. Write your body a letter of gratitude for the ways it has served you throughout your life. Thank the different parts of your body for the things they do for you. Do your arms let you hold your loved ones? Do your legs let you dance around to your favorite song? Do your hands let you draw, write, type, or otherwise communicate with the people around you? Add to your letter when you’re inspired to do so and re-read it as necessary.
  3. Remember that body shame is not a diet plan.  When you hate your body, it’s really hard to take good care of it. We don’t take care of things we hate. Instead of shaming yourself if you’re disappointed with how you look, take a moment to practice compassion toward your body.  Don’t say things about your body that you wouldn’t say about a dear friend.
  4. Reach out to a loved one. Ask that person meaningful questions about their life and avoid any mention of what you look like or what that loved one looks like. Focus on following up on their responses and staying present in the conversation. Shifting our focus to engaging with someone else is a great way to break free of our own body-worries and to build strong relationships.
  5. Ask yourself, “What type of person do I want to be?” After you come up with your response, take at least one small action that’s consistent with one of the qualities you list.
  6. Still stuck in the mirror? Don’t be too hard on yourself. This culture does not make it easy to feel comfortable in your body. If the struggle feels difficult to you, that’s because you’re fighting against powerful forces that benefit from women feeling bad about how they look. If you think you’re losing the fight too often or that it hurts too much, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You don’t need to battle this alone.  

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