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How to Learn Self Acceptance and End Body Hatred

Updated on October 01, 2016
Kathleen Odenthal profile image

Kathleen is a 29 year old mom who struggled with anorexia for decades. She is now in recovery & hopes to educate others about this disease.

You are Not Your Jean Size

Creating a Positive Body Image

Curing negative self esteem is not easy. We are constantly being berated with photoshopped images of models, diet and diet pill commercials, messages from the media that we are judged by our appearances and subliminal messages that convince us that our bodies are all that matter. It's a shallow society we live in, and finding your own sense of self, as well as a healthy self image can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

But believe it or not, positive body image is possible!

Realize that we create our own body image, which means that it doesn't reflect the way we are seen by others. In fact, our body image can be drastically different from the way we look in reality, because our body image is created by our mind.

The number of things that can affect our body image include our emotions, our mood, present or past experiences, our relationships and more. Although there are external factors like the media that we cannot change, we can change the way we allow our own emotions and feelings to create a negative body image.

Be You - Be Beautiful

The Body Image Workbook provides actionable steps you can take to combat negative self talk. It is a great tool you can use to try and develop a positive sense

Learning to View Your Body Differently

Bad body thoughts can be triggered by a number of things, from a fight with a friend to a glimpse in the mirror. In order to begin to view ourselves differently, we must relinquish our judgmental tendencies and start viewing ourselves for our positive qualities and traits.

Many people find it helpful to make a list of things you like about yourself (or several lists) and tape it somewhere you will see frequently. This is to help decrease negative self talk which promotes a bad body image.

If we ever want to achieve an attitude of self acceptance, we must not only learn to accept our bodies as they are, but accept all bodies as they are, and realize that bodies are merely vessels to our true, inner beauty. Its time we reevaluate the standards we have set by which we judge ourselves, and by which we judge others. We have been brainwashed to believe that we need to always be trying to outdo ourselves - that nothing we do is ever quite good enough.

We have been living our lives ruled by standards that are completely unattainable.

Why do we believe these things? Why do we expect more out of ourselves than we would ever expect from others? It is difficult to give up the omnipotent fantasy that we can do it all. Only once we establish realistic goals and standards will we be able to view ourselves in a new light.

10 Steps to Positive Body Image

Developing a positive sense of self doesn't just happen overnight. You need to take action if you want to combat body hatred. This book is an excellent resource

Tips for Improving Your Body Image

Creating and maintaining a positive body image is a daily struggle. Each day we need to wake up, take a deep breath, and remember that any negative feelings that come up throughout the day about our body are probably just disguises for deep feelings and emotions we don't want to face.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you boost and maintain a positive body image:

  • Use self-affirmations every day; its even better if you can write them on post it notes and leave them around your home or office
  • Cut the labels out of your clothes - they don't matter, and they certainly don't define you
  • Avoid magazines that feature articles about weight, food and the body
  • Read books that encourage self esteem, rather than books that promote unattainable standards of beauty
  • Throw out your scale - scales are for fishes!
  • Avoid mirrors if they make you feel poorly
  • Take time to pamper yourself
  • Surround yourself with people who bring you up, not people who bring you down
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Exercise for joy, not for weight loss
  • Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful
  • Remember that no one is judging you as hard as you judge yourself

Don't Believe the Mirror - You are More than a Reflection

Body Image Poll

Which part of your body do you LOVE the most?

See results

Media and Poor Body Image

The mass media plays a huge role in shaping the way we view our bodies. 80% of Americans watch television every day, with the average length of time per day averaging between 3 and 5 hours. Those numbers are unfortunately just increasing with access to technology and the internet at our fingertips round the clock. We are connected to so many outlets for such a long time that bombard us with nothing but negative messages, its no wonder why we suffer from poor body image!

We don't wake up and get to choose from an array of Photoshop tools when we are getting ready for the day. Last time I checked, I didn't have a thinning tool in my makeup bag. Yet we are led to believe that this "barbie doll" shaped person we see on television is how we are supposed to look.

The average American sees thousands of advertisements EACH DAY. Advertisements that we think don't affect us, but do. This makes it the most powerful and dangerous source of mass media we are exposed to and all it does is feed us lies.

Avoiding the Mirror is a Good Way to Promote a Positive Self Image

Body Image Facts and Figures

You may be surprised by some of the statistics research has discovered regarding body image, weight and eating disorders:

  • An estimated 8 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders
  • On average, 25% of high school girls would rather lose their vision than their figure
  • 50% of female teenagers wish they were thinner
  • 30% of women have an 'ideal weight' that is considered unhealthy according to the Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • The average American women is 5 feet 4 inches, and weighs about 140 pounds
  • The average model is 5 feet 11 inches, and weighs 117 pounds (which fits the diagnostic criteria for the weight of an anorexic)
  • 8 out of 10 women are unhappy with the way they look
  • The diet industry makes at least $50 billion annually
  • Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder associated with poor body image, is the leading cause of death among all mental illnesses

Every Body is Different

Every one of us, twins included, are completely unique.

Not only do we each have a unique personality, we each have a unique body. Despite what the media tells us, we aren't created from a cookie cutter mold, and we all aren't meant to look the same.

What a boring world that would be!

Changing the way we view our body doesn't happen overnight - and once we finally achieve a positive view of the way we look, we must remember that body image waxes and wanes. It isn't stagnant.

Some days we will feel great, and other days we may need a boost, but at least we know that we don't have to feel the way have felt for so long. At least by now we realize that positive body image is an attainable goal that we can all achieve, and that we deserve to receive.

Once we reach that point of acceptance, we need to work constantly to maintain this self-acceptance - nurture it and encourage it to flourish. This takes a dedication to avoiding negative self talk, avoiding media outlets that make us feel poorly, and a commitment to focusing on our assets instead of our weaknesses.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal Romano

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    • Ryem profile image

      Ryem 2 years ago from Maryland

      So many girls have problems loving and accepting their appearances. I'm sure your words here will help some. : )

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 2 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      Absolutely! Wouldn't that be amazing?!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      We shall join forces and bash together!

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 2 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      Thank you so much Paula, its time we bash these false ideals that are unattainable and embrace who we were meant to be! Im going to check out your hub now :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hi there Kathleen.......Bravo!! Superb hub. A topic close to my heart...and I hope, to most women. As a matter of fact....looks like you and I were on the same wavelength this week! Believe it or not, I just wrote on body image!!

      You've done an outstanding job.

      As my friends Mary & Linda always say, "Great minds think alike!"

      Voted up & UIAB......shared, tweeted and pinned.......Peace, Paula

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