Choosing Happiness: Body Image

Body image is your own perception of your body and physical appearance. Right now we are in the prime of social media, presenting body image with a whole new set of hardships. It is easy to get on Instagram and see women who are stunning or freaks of nature, creating a picture in your mind of what you think you should look like. Girls who have never struggled with body image are more likely to now because of social media.

But,

Because I have fallen victim to this before at a much younger age, it helped me learn that I am my own version of perfect the way that I am.

What social media does not show us or emphasize is every single person is uniquely and individually made. My dad used to tell me, “nothing is neither good nor bad, except by comparison.” At first I misunderstood what he was trying to tell me. I thought he was provoking self-awareness, so maybe I would work harder in life. For example, maybe he thought I wasn’t trying hard enough in school because my little sister had better grades than me.

In actuality, my dad was saying it was up to me to perceive myself accurately­–if I wanted to be happy with myself it was up to me. This is the greatest piece of truth I have ever understood.

Later, I learned my little sister is incredibly book smart and has recently earned a spot at Duke. She has strengths different from mine, and the ability to acknowledge that truth allows me to celebrate all her amazing accomplishments, and never feel any different about myself. I’ll never have exactly what she has in life, but I’m 100% okay with that. My strengths will provide for a life completely my own, and equally amazing.

So, how does my sister’s achievements relate to body image? Again, since body image is about perception and not reality, if you can learn how to properly put things in perspective, you can put your body image in perspective, and that is freedom.

If you are unhappy with your body, the best thing you can do is to know your physical potential. For example: I’m 5’10, the same height as Kendall Jenner, but humorously I will never, ever look like her. My frame is much larger and wider, and I simply will never have the dainty model body. The truth is we all have beautiful bodies, every shape and size. The only healthy comparison is the progress of your own body.

The next best thing you can do is recognize and accept the positives in your reality. I’m not super skinny, but I feel comfortable in my skin because I have taken care of my body: fueling it with nutrient-dense foods and exercising often. I can go on long hikes, feel confident in a swimsuit, and keep up when playing a sport or game. My body is not perfect, but it allows me to live an active lifestyle, and that makes me happy.

Lastly, I believe in order to feel confident in your body, it is crucial to take the steps to make progress toward your goal. Without the measure of any other body types, what will allow you to feel great in your own body? And how can you get there? Your body wants to be fed well and it wants to exercise. Your body craves movement. I used to hate running, but I made myself because I knew it was good for my heart and the longevity of my life. While I used to hate running, I can still remember my first runners high, on the fourth mile of a run. It was a breakthrough and I did not want to stop. I felt on top of the world. Now, I crave running when I don’t do it because I loved that feeling so much. But, you have to find exercise that you love and crave.

Things to think about/ Overview:

  1. You control who and what you compare yourself to
  2. Body Image is about perception not reality
  3. Other people don’t get to control how much you value yourself
  4. Know your physical potential
  5. Recognize what you value about yourself
  6. Take steps toward your physical goal

The BEST and MOST VALUABLE advice I’ve ever been given is in regards to intention behind your actions:

I was told by a mentor of mine a couple of years ago that you can make decisions either out of fear or out of love. If you’re making a decision out of fear it is the wrong decision, but if you’re making it out of love it is the right one.

Take care of your body and love it not because you’re afraid you’re not good enough, but because you love yourself and what you have been given.

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