Here are 5 things that I feel helped to drastically improve my self-esteem, and more specifically, my body image over the last 3 years.
1. Stop reading fashion magazines/body building magazines/stupid shit that glorifies unrealistic bodies. These are a huge culprit for poor body image. By bombarding you with unrealistic images, it’s easier to sell you things to fix yourself. The continued viewing of these images conditions us into the ideal of the magazine instead of an ideal that is healthy for our various body shapes.
2. Spend time naked. Routinely and as MUCH as you can! It helped me to get comfortable in my own skin. At first it felt awkward, but over the last year, I’ve come to love being naked with myself. Check out your body in the mirror. Don’t criticize, just explore. Identify all of the marks, spots, and bumps that are unique to you.
3. Exercise and eat well. Take care of your body so that it can take care of you. Learn to cook (YouTube has a TON of great tutorials and recipes!) so that you can feed it yummy, healthy foods. Save the salty, sugary, fatty foods for special occasions. These are hard on your body and will make you feel icky. Also strive to get at least a half hour of activity every day. If you’re like me, it helps to change up the activity so you don’t get bored!
4. When you notice yourself making judgment calls about your own body or other peoples’ bodies, step back and think about it. When I first started this, it was a near constant inner dialogue to work through my concepts of bodies and beauty. Consciously correct yourself before you move on. Remind yourself why it’s unproductive to judge, affirm your self love, and set a precedent to be more positive next time. This exercise works to build your self-awareness. The more self-aware you are, the easier it is to let go of the negative influences around you. I think this had the most effect for me.
5. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Get rid of friends that expect you to live up to a certain physical standard and/or judge you for your body – I’ve found these aren’t real friends. They are offering you a relationship contingent on your physical appearance. If you are striving to accept and love yourself, it naturally follows that you need to be in the presence of people who do the same. If you notice your friends being body negative, use it as an opportunity to start a conversation about their judgment. With continued conversation, your friends might hop on board toward a healthier view of themselves and others right along with you! Using a gentle, genuine tone and the right questions, I’ve strengthened a hand full of friendships using these kinds of dialog:
Friend: Wow, look at that cow!
You: Why are you calling her a cow?
Friend: What the fuck is she wearing?
You: What does it matter what she wears?
Friend: Ewww look how little he is!
You: Little compared to what?
Best of luck. <3
There’s a channel on YouTube that I’ve been watching for some time now. His name is Steven Assanti, otherwise known as “FatBoyGetDown“. Steve weighs over 600 pounds and in his videos you can find him dancing to the latest beats, parodying other YouTubers, and….eating.
A short while ago, Steve applied to be on a weight loss show called “The Biggest Loser” pleading that he fears he will soon die if he doesn’t lose weight. When he wept on camera, his viewers were compassionate, empathetic, and wrote in to help him get on the show. Since then, there have been no updates on his attempts to get on the show. I suspect he may have been rejected because he has too many medical issues, but I don’t have much support for that claim. In the mean time, he has continued to post videos like his old ones. I find his comments…..interesting. On the message boards of his regular videos, people leave considerably rude comments:
My questions for you are: are these comments about Steve’s habits or body justified? Is Steve “asking for it” and does that matter? Would it make any difference if people were telling him how to live his life in a way that was less rude? Is it our place to regulate each other’s health…especially a total stranger? Obviously, the commenters on this video think that the answer is yes; they feel justified and entitled to telling Steve how to regulate his life and will likely continue to do so.
I’m not so sure I see it the same way. Being obese is not a crime, and even though his approach might be unhealthy, eating too much isn’t a crime either. In my opinion, it’s YOUR life, not mine. It’s not my place to degrade you and judge you because of a lifestyle and habits that are yours alone; I simply don’t see this as warranting verbal abuse. Humans can be so despicably cruel.
*UPDATE 3/08/11: Steven has posted a video announcing that he is leaving YouTube because of the verbal abuse. :’(
I get email [paraphrased]:
I have recently began to date a fantastic girl. I’m very confused, because I like her for who she is, like, I love this girl, and I want to stay with her forever. It’s just…I wish she was thinner. I know, I know, that sounds like such a douche bag thing to want, and I feel horrible about it. She’s not even obese, just a little rounded, which isn’t wrong by any means. Just, as far as sexuality goes, I wish she was a little thinner, just as a turn on type thing and stuff…Thanks for any help you can give.
First off, thanks for acknowledging that not accepting your partner’s natural form is not fair. You are way ahead of the game. However, if it makes you feel any better, it’s probably not entirely your fault for holding her to such standards. While you have fortunately acknowledged it, many others often fail to recognize that this “unnatural beauty bombardment” is not only detrimental to women, it hurts relationships and women’s partners too.
To me, the reality is, you cannot ask your girlfriend to lose weight. In particular, because you just started dating AND she’s healthy. To many, it will come off as douchebaggy and uncalled for. Not only that, but such a request has the power to destroy a person’s self confidence, and sometimes, their trust in you. It’s normal for women to have curves and a little bit more body fat than men. People with a little extra weight tend to live longer and healthy sized women (note, the spectrum of healthy is much broader than we perceive) have healthier babies. I would like to add, in response to some legitimately concerned comments, that dealing with an unhealthy partner is a different story that I’m not going to get into in this post.
That said, the fact remains that you still feel an impediment in your attraction to her. As much as I’d like to believe love is blind, I don’t. In my experience, there needs to be SOME kind of physical attraction for any physical relationship to work. The rest of your email indicates that you obviously find her attractive, she’s just not your “perfect 10″ because of the weight issue. Perhaps it might be helpful for you to:
1) Start at the root of the problem: begin questioning your own perceptions of weight and beauty to understand why you feel the way you do. What are you comparing her to? Is it pornography? Is it reality TV? Surround yourself with more positive/realistic images and continue questioning yourself. You have clearly already started that, which I think is awesome! Many props to you. But it takes time, skepticism, and persistence before you will really start to see beauty in more forms than just being thin–so don’t beat yourself up over it.
2) Take theory out into the real world: focus on what you do like when you’re getting off with her. Enjoy the rest of her body and allow yourself to embrace the “soul connection” you have with her when you have sex.
While working out with a partner is always a fun activity, I think that asking her to work out with you for the sake of her losing weight is a bit extreme in this case; again, mostly because you just started dating, but also because she’s not unhealthy/self esteem stuff. So, other than being sensitive, opening your mind to other kinds of beauty, and continuing to focus on the positive you see in her, I personally don’t know of much more that could really help you. It’s not a black and white issue, but you sound like you’re on the right path. In short, it is my opinion that if you want to stay with her, you’ll have to look past it, and these are some of the means that might help you do so. Best of luck!
The comment section is open to readers who have their own input. Should anyone else like to give advice, please remember that this is a sex and body positive space. :)