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Body Image and Vanity

Julia Harris

ThinkstockPhotos-84470230Living life through the eyes of a woman is an amazing experience, but it is not always easy. Often It seems that everywhere we look we are sharply confronted with ideal images of what we should look like, how we should dress, and how to feel about our bodies. It often seems that the media has guidelines for our weight, diet, time management, wardrobe, and what makes us beautiful; as if every woman is a “one size fits all.” Trying to accommodate these unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of frustration and can often greatly impact a woman’s self-esteem, body image, and ultimately; her identity. Every day we look in the mirror and make judgements based off what we see; good and bad. We compare ourselves to what we see on TV and in magazines which can cause us to scrutinize our reflections. It makes sense that we do this, it’s difficult to not get caught up in the cycle of judging your body, your features, or your weight when it’s all we see and all we are told. But the more we judge the reflection we see in the mirror, the more we begin to internalize the negative judgments we make about our self. Thinking something negative to yourself day after day has the same effect as someone else criticizing you every day. Your brain knows you and trusts your thoughts, and it takes those thoughts to heart. The inevitable internalization of these judgments can lead to low self-esteem, poor body image, anxiety, disordered eating, depression, and/or feelings of worthlessness. If you thought you were alone in these thoughts, believe me that you are not; almost every woman has negatively judged her body or appearance at some point in her life. The good news is that managing these feelings and thoughts is possible – here are some helpful tips:

  1. Write down 5 positive affirmations that make you feel happy and repeat them every morning before you start your day!
  2. For every negative thought you have about yourself, follow it with 2 positive thoughts. This will boost your mood and train your brain to think more positively!
  3. Practice nonjudgmental mindfulness – focus on silently observing your feelings and letting any distracting, judgmental thoughts go!
  4. Explore activities and hobbies that make you feel good about yourself such as being outdoors, partaking in hobbies, or spending time with family or friends.
  5. Practice being kind to yourself just as you would to a loved one. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend – don’t say it to yourself!

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