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Many people struggle with loving their bodies. Lack of body positivity and body acceptance can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health. In fact, many individuals who battle with body image end up developing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. As a Philadelphia eating disorder clinic, we understand the importance of body positivity and advocating for body acceptance for all. Below is more on Body Acceptance Week and how you can learn to love your body.
Body image refers to the way you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It includes what you believe about your own appearance, how you feel about your body (including your height, shape, and weight,) and how you sense and control your body as you move. Body image is developed at a young age, as many of us internalize messages that can lead to either positive or negative body image.
Body acceptance goes hand in hand with body image. Body acceptance encompasses body positivity, body neutrality, and body liberation, all of which are centered on accepting one’s appearance and learning to love one’s body. Body dissatisfaction is a common risk factor for eating disorders, which are mental health disorders in which the individual practices dangerous and disordered eating habits.
Body Acceptance Week takes place from October 24th to the 28th and is designed to encourage people to care for and respect their bodies, even in light of any insecurities. Unlike body positivity, body acceptance understands that you may not be thrilled about your body every minute of every day. This can be especially helpful for those in eating disorder recovery, as it removes the pressure of having to love oneself.
Some think that body positivity doesn’t leave room for insecurities or frustrations. And if we’re being honest, it can be difficult and feel like an overwhelming goal to have to love your body every day. The truth is we aren’t perfect, and everyone has their tough days, mentally.
Alternatively, body acceptance encourages us to treat our bodies with respect and care, including all of our deepest insecurities and knowing that some days will be tougher than others. Ultimately, body acceptance is about reflecting on the negativity you feel about your body and how you can find peace with it without having to change it.
You don’t have to feel pressured to love every little thing about your body to develop a healthier attitude about it. While body positivity is important and wonderful to achieve, there’s no pressure to feel like you have to love yourself with no questions asked. The reality is that we’ll always experience fluctuations in the way we feel about ourselves, but no matter what, it’s important to respect and care for our bodies no matter what.
Below are some helpful tips for accepting your body that you should try.
As you work on replacing negative and unhelpful thoughts, shift your mentality about your body from its appearance to how it functions and what it does for you every day. By taking this approach, you can change your mentality from telling yourself, “I hate my arms,” to “My arms allow me to drive and write and do different things every day.” When you base your self-talk on your body’s abilities rather than its appearance, it can help you find the middle ground of acceptance.
Affirmations are a form of self-talk, so while they might not seem natural at first, the more we say certain things to ourselves, the more we believe them. The best time to repeat affirmations is when those negative thoughts creep up. Affirmations can sound something like, “My body is strong and capable,” or “I am thankful for my body's strength.”
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I hate my arms” or “Ugh, my thighs are so big”? We can pick ourselves apart for days if we allow it, which is why it’s important to replace those negative thoughts with more realistic ones. While you can replace them with positive thoughts, we won’t always believe in ourselves, which can be unhelpful. Instead, replace negative thoughts with ones that are more realistic and positive, like “My thighs are strong and help me walk” or “My arms allow me to hug others.”
Clothes are meant to fit you, not the other way around. Don’t allow the size of your pants or tops to determine your worth. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we want to clarify that the size and fit of your clothing can affect your body image. Avoid wearing clothes that make you feel frumpy or tight and uncomfortable. Instead, wear clothes that fit you (no matter the size) and make you feel good.
We can’t always tell from someone’s outward appearance what they’re struggling with, and even if we could, we shouldn’t talk about their body. To develop body acceptance and respect for your appearance, it’s important to respect others’ appearance. This starts with not speaking about others’ bodies, whether they’re celebrities or someone you’re close to.
Continually speaking about your body or other people’s bodies also shifts your mindset to constantly focus on outward appearance. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you’re passing severe judgments and applying value simply based on a person’s appearance.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to body acceptance. If your social media feed is filled with other people who you compare yourself to or who make you feel bad about your appearance, it’s time to unfollow them. You’re in control of who you follow, and especially if you’re recovering from an eating disorder, it’s important to avoid people on social media who may be triggering.
In addition to our tips, we hope these body acceptance quotes can serve as little reminders that can help you change the way you think of your appearance. Here are 10 body acceptance quotes to remember:
“The most powerful thing anyone can say to us is what we say to ourselves.”— Christine D’Ercole
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise Hay
"I definitely have body issues, but everybody does. When you come to the realization that everybody does—even the people that I consider flawless—then you can start to live with the way you are." — Taylor Swift
“Hating our bodies is something that we learn, and it sure as hell is something that we can unlearn.” — Megan Jayne Crabbe
“Stop trying to fix your body. It was never broken.” — Eve Ensler
“Life is so much more beautiful and complex than a number on a scale.” — Tess Munster
"You have to stand up and say, 'There's nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am. You're the one with the problem!'" — Jennifer Lopez
“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.” — Salma Hayek
“How I feel about myself is more important than how I look. Feeling confident, being comfortable in your skin—that’s what really makes you beautiful.” — Bobbi Brown
“Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.” — Gloria Steinem
As a rehab center that offers Philadelphia eating disorder treatment, we understand that acceptance of body image is difficult to achieve. It’s important to remember that we all have our hard days, and we won’t always be thrilled with what we see in the mirror. But at the end of the day, remind yourself of the wonderful person you are, inside and out, no matter what.
If you or a loved one is displaying signs of an eating disorder and needs help, don’t wait to reach out. Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our eating disorder support and how we can help.