Body image: the self-scrutiny has to stop and here’s how

Over 73% of women think about their body shape and size everyday and 6 out of 10 women have said their body image makes them feel depressed.

Sound familiar?

In our culture we tend to consider our body as something mechanical rather than viewing it as a living being. 

We all deal with body issues at some point in our lives no matter what size or shape our bodies are. This is hardly surprising as every day we are being bombarded by the media, telling us how we should change our appearance. Magazines, social media and TV commercials telling us:

“How to lose weight in 5 days”

“How to banish cellulite”

“How to look instantly slimmer and hide imperfections”.

We are constantly being told we are not good enough and that there is something wrong with us. It is no wonder we hate things about ourselves that make us unique.

This has to STOP.

Just the other day, I overheard a conversation among young girls. 

They took turns saying negative things about their own bodies to each other.

I was SHOCKED.

It seems this has become somewhat normal to criticise our bodies to each other, as if it was a way of bonding with others.

The path to Self-Love

Letting go of toxic self-criticism means changing how we relate to ourselves and our physical body.  

We are not machines. Our bodies are living beings that deserve our love and respect. 

It’s time  to change the way we look at ourselves,  I truly believe that body image issues really come from not feeling good enough or satisfied with who we are.

Boy, do I know how this feels!

I have struggled with this for most of my life. I had body image issues like I think most of us do at some stage during our lives. In fact, I suffered from an eating disorder for many years.

In my darkest moments my daily diet was apples and the odd banana, I hated my body and ultimately myself.  I thought that the more weight I could lose the better I would feel, this wasn’t true, the skinnier I got the more unhappy I was. I would stare at myself in the mirror looking at disgust at myself and magnifying everything I didn’t like about myself.

I was in a lonely and disempowered place, constantly looking outside of myself. It wasn’t until I made the decision to change and find a way out that my life took a different direction.

The turning point

I decided to choose a different story and unlearn the one I was telling myself.  

I chose  love and this is something that I now cultivate everyday.

IMAGINE what your life would look like if you were completely in love with yourself and your body? 

IMAGINE getting to know yourself and accepting yourself for all that you are, flaws and all

Because you are beautiful in every essence of the word from the inside out. Real beauty comes from within and shines outward. 

Here are some of the ways in which I learnt to embrace and love my body and accept every single part of me…

1. Get out of your head and into your body

By moving your body in a conscious and loving way,  does not only make you feel good physically, it changes your mind and your attitude.   

Our minds are beautiful things, and we can imagine and manifest what we once thought was impossible, however it can also torment us and keep us a prisoner. 

You can master your mind.

It takes time and consistency and physical exercise is a powerful  way of getting out of your head and into you body.  

Movement could be in the form of a brisk walk in the woods, a yoga class, or a swim in the ocean, whatever it is, choose to  MOVE in a loving way, this is where the magic happens. 

2.  Turn your focus away from what you look like and how you feel

Instead of obsessing with what your body looks like, turn your attention to how you want to feel. If we constantly focus on what we don’t like about ourselves, we will continue the negative spiral and never move towards a more positive body image.

I use affirmations to help me feel gratitude. They allow me to feel into my body rather than focusing on what it looks like:

  • My body deserves my love and care
  • I am grateful for all my body does for me 
  • I feed my body with positive thoughts and nourishing foods
  • I stay in my own lane without feeling the need to compare myself to others. My journey is unique to me.

3.  Set body love goals

I set myself mini body love goals to work towards a healthy body image,  here are some examples:

  • Movement as mentioned above
  • Meditation
  • Surrounding yourself  with positive people 
  • Do something special for yourself every week 
  • Wear clothes that feel make you feel good about your body and empower you

4. Get to know your inner bully

Becoming aware of your inner voice and the dialogue you are using is essential.  When you look in the mirror, instead of seeing yourself in all your beauty and loving what you see,  your mind begins to play tricks and you repeat patterns. In essence, our inner bully is merely rehearsing  stories absorbed from the past.  

Learning what stories you are constantly telling yourself and the way in which your mind plays games with you is vital to making a change. 

We can unwire and rewire ourselves to think and feel different, empowered and inspired by all our bodies do for us by really getting to know our inner critic and the stories that we are telling ourselves.  Meditation is a life changing tool for helping us to understand ourselves and recognizing our inner bully. 

5. Treat yourself kindly as you would treat a friend

When you find yourself going on a negative spiral, ask yourself how would you talk to a friend?  Chose a different path, a path of kindness, compassion and gratitude for all your body does for you. Sit and take some deep breaths and refer to your affirmations to move you out of the darkness and into the light.

So, here you have some examples of how it’s possible to learn to love what you see in the mirror and care about your body in a healthy and positive way.

It really is time we release this mental torture and choose love and empathy for ourselves and our bodies. 

It is then that we can truly embrace ourselves fully in each moment that we can we experience a peaceful and fulfilled life.  Constantly complaining and looking for the negative only leads to more negativity and unhappiness. 

Accepting where we are right now today and using self love and acceptance together with taking action steps (no matter how big or small)  towards our goals and purpose make us feel empowered and inspired and ultimately happier human beings.

You are not alone

I would love for you to join my high vibe Self Love Sisterhood Facebook group – a sacred space for women to share the journey. Or if you want to have a supportive and listening ear,  let’s talk. Book a coffee chat.

Lou Stokes

Lou Stokes

Lou Stokes is a Style & Confidence coach based in Madrid. With online 1-1 coaching she helps women cultivate confidence, magnify their wellbeing and express themselves through style. Book a power call with Lou to find out more.

2 comments

  • I am taking this onboard 100%. It’s not just the body shape, size and imperfections but ageing as well. I recently had some images back from a photoshoot and was scared to look at them – I didn’t look for two weeks! Now I’ve been having a word with myself, and I’ve started to love the photos. They are real pictures of a woman with age and experience. Amen.

    • Yes, you are so right about the aging affecting us as well, it is especially important to cultivate a self love practice through this stage of our lives as everything is changing. I am glad you had a word with yourself Gabrielle, you saw the stories your mind were creating and chose another path, great!

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