By: Mary Pat Baldauf
Whether you’re a few pounds heavier than you’d hoped or feeling less than svelte in a particular outfit, we all have those days that we hate the way we look. Mine came last night when I was trying on clothes at a local department store. Faced with the harsh lights of the dressing room and a very revealing three-way mirror, it seemed like every pair of jeans instantly turned me into the Goodyear blimp.
Up more than a few pounds from my recent personal best, I was particularly hard on myself. I actually made the following comments to my sister, who was shopping with me:
“Oh my gosh, I look worse than I did before I lost all of that weight.”
“I am huge!”
“I look horrible!”
Thankfully, my sister was quite supportive and reminded me that while I may have gained some weight from my recent low, I am still in a far better place that I was seventy-five to eighty pounds ago. She also told me that I was “looking a little gaunt” at that low weight, which I don’t agree with, but was nice to hear nonetheless.
For those days that you don’t have a supportive friend like Sister with you, I recommend that you read and bookmark LMSW Glenda Gleissner’s: ‘I Feel Fat’: How to Feel Instantly Better in Your Body. In this post, Gleissner features ten tools to boost your mood when you’re having body image issues. Last night, I made use of several of the tools Gleissner mentions:
Support: Gleissner says that connecting with others can actually help squash some of the perfectionism and criticism tied to body dissatisfaction. I’m thankful that Sister was with me last night to help put things into perspective.
Appreciate: I reminded myself that while my weight is up a little, my body has been on an incredible journey in the last two years. And as a result, I am stronger and healthier: my blood pressure is down and my endurance is up.
There are also a couple of tools Gleissner mentions that I need to use:
Stop Comparing: In the very dressing room I derided myself in, I also compared myself to both my sister and my thinner self. While making comparisons is easy to do, we are neither better than nor less than anyone on this earth, we are just us. I need to learn to celebrate that.
Have Compassion: Gleissner asserts that when we have a body image issue, we are often feeling bad about something else; beating up our body is simply a go-to negative coping mechanism. She recommends doing something nice for yourself instead of beating yourself up.
In closing, I’m curious what kind of body image issues you might have and how you deal with them. Anything in Gleissner’s post that you either use or will try to use? Thoughts on body image in general?