It’s important to develop and maintain positive body image throughout your life. When I help people recover from eating disorders, in most cases it’s relatively easy for me to show them how to make their eating disorder symptoms go away very quickly. Even when a person has had active symptoms for years, with the proper therapy and our help, they often are symptom-free within a few months.
What is hardest to eradicate, however, is the negative body image that remains long after symptoms dissipate. Negative body image and body hatred are often the last problems to leave with an eating disorder. The symptoms can get better but developing a positive body image is a lot harder.
Why is this?
One major reason is that from the time we’re born, we’re bombarded with millions of messages, especially women but increasingly men, too: that we’re not acceptable the way we are; we need to be prettier, thinner, and affluent, have blue eyes, or a perfect body. Think about social media too; it has just exploded onto the scene! In addition to radio, cable, and television, we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, bombarding us every day with messages that we’re not good enough, we need to diet, and to constantly exercise.
How do you fight against these insidious messages? You must create a force field against diet culture. This is not easy, but it’s important to get angry at all the advertisers that strive to convince boys and girls and young men and women to be perfect and don’t accept a wide range of individuality or difference.
Start to question TV commercials and ads with a critical eye. Get educated about deceptive techniques that advertisers use in marketing like airbrushing and Photoshop. I try to post a lot about this issue on my Facebook page so you can check it out at Lori Osachy’s Quick Start Recovery. Instead of feeling bad about yourself, get angry and take to task any and all advertisers who try to earn money by assaulting people with unrealistic expectations of their bodies. Don’t let diet cultures surprise and overwhelm you. Start to get educated now!
I’m going to give you a few other resources to start to educate yourselves about diet and advertising culture in order to feel better about your own body. Here is some very important advice: Try not to create a diet culture at home. Don’t go on a diet, and don’t compare people’s appearances. Don’t put your body or weight down in front of your kids, and stop weight and diet talk ASAP. There are so many young people I see in counseling whose parents tell me they don’t encourage them to diet. What they leave out is that they often tell their kids that they feel fat and are going on a diet.
You’re not going to have a child that develops a positive body image if you are dieting. That’s the hard truth; and anyway, diets don’t work and they’re not good for you, so just cut out the dieting once and for all. If you have trouble doing this, read some books on diet culture and eating disorders. Two that I recommend are The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Or, get help from a trained therapist to help you defeat your own eating disorder thoughts and behavior.
Even armed with the knowledge I provided above, it can be difficult to overcome feelings of hopelessness about weight and body image and have the courage to try something new. So I got to thinking and realized: nothing gets people motivated like a challenge, why not take 7 of my most powerful techniques to learn how to love your body (there are 21 in all!), and create a FREE 7 day Love Your Body Challenge!
How does the challenge work? By signing up, you’ll receive an email every day of the challenge with a Love Your Body technique PLUS an action step to take that day. I encourage you to sign up here on our invite-only member forum support page in order to report on your progress, encourage others during the challenge and get personal support from me as well.
Individually the Love Your Body techniques may not seem like much. Or perhaps it may feel overwhelming to practice all of the techniques. Yet, I am positive that if you choose just five of them and practice daily, I promise you, you will see a huge improvement in your body image and self-esteem within just one week. You will see. Don’t discount them. This is powerful information and I’m thrilled to give it to you because I want to see a world free of body image hatred and eating disorders within my lifetime.
You can register for the 7 day Love Your Body Challenge through this link: https://bodyimagecounseling.leadpages.net/love-your-body-chalenge/
I hope to see you all there!
Director, The Body Image Counseling Center
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