Warm weather is arriving! And while visions of al fresco dining, pool floats, and frozen daiquiris can make us giddy with excitement, for those of us struggling with body image issues (and research shows that is over 91% of us), the thought of baring more of our bodies can send shivers down our spines. All of the “get-bikini-body-ready” messaging from diet-culture doesn’t make this transition any easier, trying to convince us that our bodies are not good enough as they currently are.
With that in mind, prepping for the onslaught of diet-culture messaging is the best way to guard yourself against any “maybe this diet will be different” rabbit holes. Here are my three tips for heading into the spring with a body-positive mindset:
- Get rid of the clothes that make you feel like your body isn’t the size it’s meant to be, in this moment: We’ve all been there. We’re feeling great about our body image and where we’re at mentally, and then we pull on a pair of jeans that are way too snug, or have to go on the dreaded bathing-suit shopping trip, and suddenly we’re spiraling out from shame. Stop the cycle in its tracks by letting go of clothing items–and sizes!–that don’t honor your body anymore. If you are saying good-bye to clothes in plus-sizes, please consider donating to thrift stores or consignment–there is a need for more plus options in these arenas. It’s important to note that we can’t all go out and buy a new wardrobe to ease our body image struggles. If you have the ability to do that, amazing! Go forth. If not, there are always some cheaper alternatives: clothing swaps with friends, and second-hand stores are great options for those with a smaller budget. Also, when you do invest in new clothes, make sure you’re buying for your body now, and not some aspirational body in the future.
- Immerse yourself in imagery of all sized folks enjoying their life and their bodies: Studies show that when we are exposed to something more, we’re more likely to accept it. The same is true for bodies! The more we expose ourselves to people in all shapes and sized bodies, the more accepting we are of them–and ourselves! Make sure that the images you’re looking at feel representative of what you look like, and that the folks in the images are happy and enjoying their life. No headless fatty pictures! No dieting pictures! Only happiness, because that’s what you deserve too.
- Remember that body positivity is political: The body positive movement isn’t just about accepting your body. It’s about making space in this world for all bodies, especially those that are the most marginalized. Remember that we live in a world where we are conditioned to think we’re never good enough; that we must look one specific way to be worthy of love, success, and attention; and that there are industries out there that benefit handsomely from our continued attempts to force our bodies and lives into a mold that they were never meant to exist within. Put your anger where it rightfully belongs: not at yourself, but at the world that made you think you were anything other than perfect, just as you are.
If you are struggling with body hatred, feel stuck in wanting to lose weight, struggle with disordered eating or an eating disorder, or just know that you could have a healthier relationship with food and your body, I encourage you to seek out support from a licensed mental health professional specializing in eating disorders from a Health At Every Size® weight-inclusive perspective. And be sure to check out my brand new 6-week online course, The Anti-Diet Plan, designed to help you break-free from dieting and learn a radically new way to relate to food and your body.