Self-Compassion For Your Body Image

Concerns About Our Body Image

Concerns about body image are a well-frequented self-compassion topic.  As the seasons change, people think about the newest trends in clothing.  They research these trends in magazines, on-line, and in their favorite stores.  They look in their closet, and think about which items need to be stored, and which can make a long awaited re-appearance.  Somewhere in this journey, they begin to try things on, and when they don’t fit or these new styles accentuate parts of people’s bodies that they would rather remain hidden, they begin to feel self-critical, sometimes discluded from popular culture, and they turn inward with these feelings with a sense of isolation, disappointment, and shame.

What’s Trending

Are new trends just for those of us, who maintain an athletic or skinny physique?  It appears to depend on where you live, and what is in vogue.  Certainly, big brands have catered to this silhouette for a long time.  We are seeing some changes with specific brands developing clothing for people with more voluptuous figures, but when purchasing these items, some people still feel like their beauty is qualified by an extra descriptor: big, voluptuous, plus size.

If this was not enough, many people with petite or athletic bodies feel that they have body parts that are lacking or compel a kind of interest that creates suffering in their life.  In this game of body image, there seem to be few winners, and many, many losers.  Where do people go, who just want to love their body?  Do they wait on good friends or a significant other or do they figure out a way to have it for themselves?  Maybe, it is a pointless journey, and we simply need to accept that some form of body shame will always be there.

The Genesis Of Body Image Issues

Most body image issues are powered by social values.  Social values are constructed by political, economical, and cultural forces.  Hundreds of years ago, good-looking people were those wealthy enough to have some size.  Fifty years ago, it was popular to be slight, and now athletic bodies are popular.  When you remember what drives public perception of attractiveness, this makes more sense. 

Hundreds of years ago, food was scarce, and people wanted to place a high value on food, so they could sell it for more.  So, bigger was better.  Fifty years ago, food was readily available for many in developed countries, so businesses placed an emphasis on beauty products and tailored clothes because skinniness was more scarce, and it is always easier to sell what is out of people’s reach.  Finally, in recent years, sports have become a very popular form of entertainment, and the supplement/health food market has grown substantially, so now the athletic body is in.

Knowing these things, you now understand that the bodies that are advertised as ideal are done so for profit not because they are based on some infallible equation designed by the gods.  Of course, social pressure will always be there, which makes it hard for us to accept ourselves as we are, but it is equally true that we cannot rely on a model as arbitrary as commerce to determine how beautiful our bodies are.  The only thing we can depend on there is that they find something about our body that we do not like, so that they can get us to buy something!

Increasing Your Positive Body Image With Compassion And Kindness

Save your money, and focus on self-compassion, instead.  Notice the tension that arises, when you begin to become self-conscious about your body image.  Soften around these tense areas.  Notice the thoughts and feelings as they arise, and honor them.  You come by them naturally.  Then, remind yourself that despite social expectations and our own tendency to be strive towards better that what you really need right now is to accept yourself just as you are, and give yourself kindness.  Then, and only then, will you be able to determine if you want to make an effort to be healthier (or if you even need to), and you will know for sure that you need make no effort to be good enough or whole.  You are already good enough or whole, and if you choose to make an effort, it will simply be to add one more thing to love about yourself.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 207.  In The Books.