How to Change Your Perception of Your Body - dummies

How to Change Your Perception of Your Body

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

About 95 percent of females and 30 percent of males have issues about the way their bodies look. You may never look like a supermodel, but that’s okay — virtually no one will. However, everybody can be healthy. When you start taking care of your body, you’ll feel better about your body and about yourself.

Check out some techniques to try if your body image needs improving:

  • Remember that your perception of your body is a thought (“I hate my jelly belly”), but you feel it like an emotion (“I’m unlovable”). So if you can change the thought (“My stomach stayed round after the children were born”), you can change the emotion (“I’m happy that my body can give life”).

  • Use your body. It functions. Any woman who has breast-fed her child, for example, can explain the shift in thinking about her breasts as functioning entities rather than as sexual objects. Use your thighs to carry you through the woods, up a mountain, or down the street. Give them something to do rather than thinking of them as something to hide.

  • Know that body images wax and wane. Some days, you may like your shape; other days, you may feel woefully inadequate. Think of times when you were not disappointed with your body. What were you doing? Do that activity more often.

  • Figure out how you perceive your body image. Either alone in front of a mirror or with a kind, loving, and trustworthy friend, stand up straight and close your eyes. If you’re a woman, stretch your arms out in front of you and indicate the width of your hips. If you’re a man, do the same to indicate how thick you think your middle is. Now open your eyes and compare. Were you accurate? Many women with distorted body images think that their hips are much wider than they are. And many men may think that their bellies are larger than they really are, too.

  • Try not to play the mix-and-match, pick-and-compare body parts game with other people. You know, you’d like to have one woman’s thighs, another’s bust, or if you’re a guy, one man’s biceps and another’s flat stomach. Remember that every body has great parts and not-so-great parts, and begin to appreciate your body for what it is. It’s the only one you have!

  • Give yourself credit for the physical attributes you do like, such as good teeth, great hair, sexy feet, a pretty belly button, or a lovely voice!