How To Deal On A Bad Body Image Day
Right now, there is a girl in a dressing room at Forever 21 who’s too embarrassed to ask for a size up in the skinny jeans that she cannot get past her thighs. Instead, she will peel them off while lamenting the “unruly” circumference of her “unruly” legs, and despite the tears in her eyes, she will plaster on a fake smile when she leaves the store empty-handed.
Right now, there is a girl locked in her bathroom, pinching and prodding at her body beneath the glow of bad fluorescent lighting. She silently curses her reflection in the mirror. Eventually, she will submerge herself in the bath she has just drawn and romanticize the feeling of being weightless. At least for a little while.
Right now, there is a girl who cannot find a single thing to wear despite a closet full of clothes, because nothing she puts on her body feels just right. Instead of meeting her friends at the movies at seven like she was supposed to, she will opt to stay in her pajamas at home and watch old episodes of Friends on Netflix.
Growing up GIRL in a culture where beauty reigns supreme isn’t always easy. Every day we are inundated with images and slogans and advertising that tells us how we should look, what we should wear, and the “ideal” size of our waist. And bad body image days? Well, they happen to the best of us in varying degrees. Days where we raise our little white flags, give in to our inner mean girls and sacrifice our self-esteem for lies that built a billion-dollar industry.
To have a bad body image day is to be beautifully human. However, it does not mean that you can’t fight the negative feelings. Or better yet, learn to love and accept yourself and your body despite your inner mean girl and an industry that is seemingly against women. The following are my five tried-and-true methods for how to deal on a bad body image day.
1. Silence Your Inner Mean Girl
First and foremost, let’s get one thing crystal clear. There is a massive difference between a healthy inner monologue — you know, one that motivates you, keeps you accountable, and holds you to certain moral standards — and a self-deprecating inner critic who does not have your best interests at heart. More often than not, we have both, but sometimes it is like our inner mean girl has a megaphone in her hands, and it becomes impossible to hear anything else.
You know that bitchy voice inside your head that tells you terrible things like that you are not good enough, or you don’t deserve that piece of cake, or that your hips are too wide? Well ... She’s wrong. You are more than good enough, you deserve all your hearts desires, and your hips are absolutely perfectly proportionate to your body.
The first step to silencing your inner mean girl is recognizing that she is not you, she is the metaphorical devil on your shoulder; a brutal culmination of all the lies you have ever been told about how we are supposed to look and think and act and feel.
The sooner you realize that your inner mean girl is operating on a bunch of lies, the sooner you will be able to silence her. It is as simple and difficult as acknowledging that the petty voice inside your head is wrong. And it is as simple and difficult as changing your inner dialogue.
Not sure where to start? I suggest ...
Reading Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini
Starting a gratitude practice that helps you shift your focus from negative to positive
Kickstarting your self-loving, body-loving journey with a program like Love Bomb Bootcamp
2. Get Comfortable
There is something to be said for being brave enough to meet yourself exactly where you are at — even on a bad body image day. The sad truth of the matter is that no matter how well-intentioned we may be and how ill-informed our feelings are; they are real, and they are ours, and pretending they don’t exist won’t magically make them go away.
Not feeling it today? Instead of trying to force something that doesn’t make you feel good, find something that does.
I am a firm believer in having a go-to feel-good outfit in your closet at all times. Kinda like the magical traveling pants, my feel-good outfit — a trusty pair of leather look leggings that might as well be yoga pants they are so comfy, paired with a long blouse that doesn’t pull or pinch or feel tight anywhere — has helped me survive the worst of my bad body image days.
If you don’t have a go-to feel-good outfit already, it’s time to invest in one ASAP.
(Yes, I am prescribing shopping. You’re welcome.)
3. Do Something That Makes You Feel Good
Okay, so I realize I am not a rocket scientist or anything even close to that. And perhaps this is like, really obvious advice — but sometimes when our mean girl is cussing us out, or our hormones are holding us hostage, we need reminders of the obvious.
When you are having a bad body image day, it can help immensely to do something — anything — that makes you feel good. This is self-care at its most potent. (It’s easy to practice self-care when you are feeling great, but much more vital when you are not.)
For me, sometimes what makes me feel good on a bad body image day is simply vegging in my PJs, other times it is a hard workout class or a long and slow flow yoga session. Other times still, it is going for a walk with my earbuds in and a feel-good podcast on (Let It Out with Katie Dalebout is always a good choice).
What makes you feel good?
Good. Now go do that.
4. Recite A Body-Positive Mantra
I know this might all sound totally voodoo and maybe even a little silly (I thought so too at first), but hear me out.
Reciting mantras is all about the words—the story you tell yourself over and over and over again. Because let’s face it...we are in our heads a LOT.
That story can either be, “my body isn’t _______ enough,” or “I don’t deserve to wear that,” or “my size is an unruly size.”
That story can be one of your own choosing and design, like…
“My body is perfect exactly as it is, right now.”
“My body is beautiful, and I can wear anything that I want to.”
“My worth is not determined by a number on a scale, tag, or otherwise.”
See what I mean?
Mantras are all about re-writing the story in your head. And once you start believing that story, amazing things can happen.
Need help? Check out this list of 20 Body-Positive Affirmations you can start reciting today.
5. Make a Love List
Self-love and body-positivity are all about appreciating your own unique brand of beauty, recognizing your myriad gifts, and honoring yourself. This can be hard to do when you are not sure where to start, or when you are blinded by society’s flawed definition of “beautiful.”
So, start at square one. Create a new definition. Put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and write down everything you love about your body. Save the modesty. There’s a lot to love.
Read your newly penned love list anytime you need a boost, and, most importantly... add to it often.
I have been the girl in the Forever 21 dressing room, the girl locked in her bathroom, the girl with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. I have been to hell and back with my body. I have called it horrible names, and repeatedly cursed its “unruliness.” I have starved my body and gorged my body, and Googled things like “how to lose 10 pounds in 2 days.” I spent so much time hating my body that it didn’t occur what might happen if I tried loving it.
Spoiler Alert: Amazing things happened.
I am not telling you it is going to be easy. Or that there is a quick fix for this body-image stuff. It is not. And there isn’t. However, what I am telling you, is that the hard work, the mental work, the un-doing of the industry’s work is 100% worth it.
To feel at home in your body is a beautiful peace that every woman deserves; a peace that is worth fighting for.