Developing a Positive Body Image: Your Gentle Guide to Loving Your Body

This is the last part of four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Female Bodies

In writing this series, many of you have shared your personal insecurities with your body. Some of you struggle with your body weight like I did. Some of you struggle with your skin. Some of you struggle with your facial features, such as not having a sharp enough nose, not having big enough eyes, and so on. Some of you struggle with your specific body parts (e.g., your thighs, waist, belly) and wish they look different.

For sure, poor body image is a rampant problem in today’s society. Many of us scrutinize our bodies in the mirror all-too-often, berate our bodies for not looking a certain way, measure them against bodies of certain idols/celebrities, then wonder why our bodies can’t look just like those idols/celebrities. I used to be like that, and it was one of the most exhausting periods of my life.

Today, I love and embrace my body. I love what I see in the mirror. I appreciate what my body has done for me and will continue to do. I celebrate my natural facial/body features and my present height/weight. And I can’t be happier with this relationship I have with my body.

How To Start Loving Your Body: A Gentle Guide

Considering that our body is the only place we have to live in, it’s pertinent that we build a positive relationship with it. 

Today’s article shares an extensive guide to love your body. These are the steps I have taken in moving from someone who didn’t love her body at all, to someone who fully embraces what her body is today and continually improves it to be better.

My wish is that those of you with poor body images will find this guide helpful. Sure, you may hate your body today. Sure, you may have body parts which do not match your ideal body vision. Sure, you may wish that you have an entirely different body altogether. Regardless, it is possible to develop an unconditional, unadulterated love for your body—just as I have. This guide will show you how.

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

Someone with self-body-hate has a tendency to zoom down right to the hateful parts of his/her body whenever he/she sees the mirror. Even if there isn’t anything to hate about a particular body part, he/she can look at that body part and spot imperfections, because the default lens he/she sees his/her body is that he/she has a hateable body and there is no redeeming factor about it. I can relate because this was the lens I used to wear.

If this is the case for you too, I want you to try something different. The next time you look at your body, look for things that you do like instead. Maybe you have lips that are nice and pouty. Maybe you have killer curves. Maybe you have beautiful eyes. Maybe you have a great smile. Maybe you have nice cheeks. Maybe you have lovely dimples. Maybe you have nice teeth.

Whatever these things are, notice them. Then, celebrate them. Give them credit for being what they are.

Then, make this part of your daily routine whenever you look into the mirror or see images of yourself.

This appreciation process was what I did in my early phase of overcoming my negative body image. My natural tendency then was to notice my body “fats” and put them down repeatedly. This would include my tummy, my “thick” thighs, my double chin, my baby fats, and my round hips. Hence, imagine how tough it was when I gave myself the challenge to look into the mirror and spot things that I liked instead.

While my mind drew a blank for the first few seconds, something soon got my attention—my complexion.

I have a natural, fair complexion which many people often compliment. My mom told me that when I was born, my relatives saw me in the hospital and immediately referred to me as “Snow White” because of how fair my skin was. On the other hand, there are tons of girls in the society who have to turn to whitening products and treatments just to achieve fair skin like mine, or perhaps never even achieving a level of fairness like mine. I realized how lucky I am to have the fair skin as I do today.

Next, I noticed my lips. I suddenly noticed the beauty of my lips in a way I had never noticed before. People have often praised me on my lips before; they would say I have a nice shape to my lips; some (guys and girls alike) have said that they look very kissable.

Then, I saw my eyes. Oh yes, my eyes, I thought. How could I have forgotten about them? I have always loved my eyes due to their roundness; I always thought they help when giving cutesy doe-eyed looks. I have also always loved the high density of my eyelashes; people have often asked me if I have mascara on even when I don’t have any, because my eyelashes are so dense.

And the list went on.

With each feature I noticed, something new would catch my attention. Suddenly, I realized there are so many things worth liking about my body—perhaps even more than the number of things I was hating about it. I just had not noticed the former because I had been so busy hating on my body all this while. I felt sad, as it meant that I had been denying my body of the appreciation and love that it deserved.

What did I do then? I began to celebrate the things that I liked about my body. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would dedicate time to appreciating my face and body. It came to a point where the celebration of my looks is now part of my daily routine—not out of narcissism, but out of self-appreciation.

Check out as well: Day 16: Appreciate Yourself of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program

2. Recognize your body is not at fault.

As I had shared in part three, I used to let out my body woes onto my body. D*mn you body! I would think, Why do you look so ugly? Why do you look so fat? Why do you have so much excess flab? I would berate it endlessly, as if it was the bearer of my appearance problems.

However, I later realized that my body is simply a neutral entity with no emotions. So what if I hate it? So what if I keep scolding it? It’s not going to look any different (as a result of my hating and scolding). If anything, looking back, I actually felt that my body probably looked more haggard than it should because I was harboring so much negative energy against it.

I eventually realized that the only way to address my body issues was (a) to take responsibility for my body woes and (b) to work through them. This meant addressing my self-hate issues. This meant fixing my eating problems and increasing my activity level so that I would achieve a slimmer physique. These are steps which I have shared in part three of the series.

While it’s natural to finger point at your body and blame it for all your body woes because it is the one carrying the objects of disdain (such as your fat thighs, chubby cheeks, flabby shoulders, and so on), it’s futile to do so. That’s because your body is neutral. It has no soul. It has no mind of its own. It was created to support your existence and to let you live on earth.

Take responsibility for your body issues and work through them instead of sitting around and hating on your body all day long. This is where the next point comes in.

3. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues.

Your self-body-hate arose as a symptom of a separate issue. To eradicate your self-body-hate permanently, get to its root cause.

Here are three questions to get started:

  1. What do you dislike about your body?
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part?
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why?
From Q3, keep drilling into the answers until you get to the root cause of your self-body-hate. After that, devise a plan to address this root cause.

For example,

  1. What do you dislike about your body? — I dislike my small eyes, my large thighs, and my big belly.
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part? — Because they are so ugly.
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why? — Because they don’t give me the attention I deserve.
    • What do you mean? — Because guys would pay attention to the girls with big eyes, small thighs, and a flat tummy.
    • Why does this bother you? — Because I want guys to pay attention to me too.
    • Why? — Because guys have rarely paid attention to me since I was young.
    • But is this the fault of your body though? — No it isn’t. My self-body-hate is merely an expression of my frustration of my lack of appeal to the opposite gender.
    • What can you do about this? Firstly, I can work on being more confident. It is said that confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can ever have. Secondly, I should embrace the natural beauty of my looks. Small eyes are beautiful in their own way too. (See Point #3 above.) Thirdly, if I have an issue with my body weight, I should work on losing weight, rather than hating my body on it. My body is an innocent party that has nothing to do with my self-body-issues.

Notice how the answers started off as surface-level responses (ugly features). Then, they quickly moved down to a deeper-level issue (not being appealing to the opposite gender) through strategic probing. This is then followed by a wrapping of the issue with proper next steps.

For whatever you may seem to dislike/hate about your body, chances are this emotion stems from a deeper-level issue, with body hate being a symptom of the problem. You need to uncover this deeper-level issue by repeatedly challenging the surface-level answers you receive from this exercise.

For me, my self-body-hate was driven by three factors: (a) my fixation with one notion of beauty, in part due to media conditioning and my childhood stories, (b) my lack of respect for my body, (c) my hatred for myself.

I overcame Factor A by expanding my notion of beauty (see Point #3 above). I then overcame Factors B and C through Points #1, #2, #3, #5, and #6 of part three. It was through resolving these three root factors that I finally overcame my self-body-hate permanently. The same will apply for you too.

Read more about addressing root causes vs. effects: How To Create Real Change In Life: Address Root Cause vs. Effects.

4. Work towards your ideal vision of your body, not anyone else’s ideal vision.

One of people’s key motivators to lose weight/change their appearance/look better is to appeal to the opposite gender (or the same gender for the homosexuals).

Yet, I want you to always remember to work towards your ideal vision of your body. Meaning—what do you see as the best version of your body? What do you see as your ideal weight (factoring in the healthy height and weight guidelines)? What do you see as your ideal fitness level? Work towards these visions, not other’s visions.

For example, many girls (including me in the past) strive to be stick skinny because it’s supposedly an archetype of beauty.

However, a stick skinny body is merely a vision projected by the media. Yes, perhaps some guys do like stick-skinny girls. (From my experience though, the ones who do are usually pretty thin or scrawny guys to begin with, and hence have an interest in girls with smaller physiques so they can feel more able-bodied. Most normal-sized guys actually prefer girls with some curves and meat.) But if your ideal vision of your body is to have a wholesome body with nice curves, then get that body and rock it! There will always be different guys with different tastes, and whoever likes your body will be drawn to you, and whoever doesn’t like it, won’t.

The most important thing to note is that this is your body, your life. Don’t mold your body just to match others’ visions. Work towards a body that you love, first and foremost. You are the key target audience of your body; everyone else is secondary. Look good for yourself first, then worry about what others think (or better still, don’t worry at all).

5. Embrace the individual beauty of your body. (Unchain yourself from media’s conditioning.)

Size zero. Big eyes. Sharp nose. Sharp chin. Big, pouty lips. Flawless complexion. Long, thin legs. Small waist. Big boobs.

The above is a standard list of criteria for what is perceived to be beauty for a female. 

All our lives, we have been fed a certain image of beauty by others. All our lives, we have thought beauty to mean having set features, a set look, and a set height/weight.

However, what if that isn’t true? What if beauty has always been in us all along, just that we are not privy to it due to our conditioning?

Our perception of beauty has been narrowly defined by the media all our lives. 

For a while I bought into this image as well. I thought beauty was a class reserved only for people who met that stringent list of criteria.

It was only when I was traveling across Europe and U.S. that I had this image demystified. I met people of all shapes, sizes, features, and colors—many of whom did not conform to the image of beauty I was brought up with. It made me realize that beauty is more than just about being a certain size and looking a certain way. It made me realize that—hey—beauty doesn’t just in one form, one shape, one color, and one size. Beauty exists everywhere—in all forms, all shapes, all colors, and all sizes

Meaning: there is no one look that is more or less beautiful than another; all looks are beautiful in themselves. This includes your look: whatever features and body type you have. It’s a look that is beautiful and unique to you, in your own special way.

The unfortunate thing is that most people are so fixated on that one notion of beauty that they fail to recognize how beautiful they truly are. And this is such a waste.

Here’s something I want you to do from now on: Rather than stack your body up against a certain mental image, see your body as is. See every single feature of your face/body as it is, without expectations of what it should be or shouldn’t be. Look. Observe. And feel.

Who knows, you may start seeing something you have never seen before. A realization of how beautiful you actually are. A new-found appreciation for your beauty. 

Read more: The Beauty of Self – How I Used To Feel Inferior about My Looks

6. Be Grateful for Your Body

Are you grateful for the body you have today? Or do you take it for granted?

I find it sad that there are fully able-bodied people berate their bodies endlessly, while you have people who are disabled who utilize their bodies in ways better than those fully able-bodied people ever will.

Take for example, Nick Vujicic. Born with no hands and no legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder, he struggled mentally, emotionally, and physically as a child due to this condition. He eventually came to terms with his disability and started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs, at the age of seventeen.

(If you can’t view the video above, visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLDBgRAvmew.)

Today, Nick is married (as of 2012), has a son (as of 2013), and speaks all over the world, inspiring people with his personal story of disability, personal struggle, and success.

Then, you have Matt Scott—an American basketball player. He has spina bifida – a disorder that existed before birth and caused him to be wheelchair bound. Despite that, it has not stopped him from playing basketball and winning national championships. (Check out commercial #4 of 15 Inspiring Commercials to Inspire the Greatness in You for more on Matt Scott.)

Think about Nick and Matt, then think about how you can better appreciate your body today. Despite being disabled, they have embraced their bodies and accomplished so much in their lives. It’s a sign to us to be grateful for the bodies we have today and put them to better use.

7. Be the best owner of your body.

Last but not least, be the best owner of your body.

You may be given this body at birth. However, have you justified your place as your body’s rightful owner? Have you cared and treated your body in a way that’s in its highest good of all?

Chances are you haven’t. So many of us abuse our bodies. We smoke, drink, eat junk food, laze around (or exercise ferociously for some), hurt ourselves, deprive ourselves of sleep, etc.—without considering the damage we are doing with each of those actions.

Myself, I used to abuse my body with binge eating, ferocious exercising thereafter, and minimal rest due to my constant self-pressurization. In retrospect, I was such an unworthy owner of my body. I was blessed with this body, and yet I failed to take good care of it.

The good thing is that my previous episode of body abuse and self-body-hate made me truly treasure my body. Today, I longer abuse my body. I rest when I need to. I consume the best food for my body. I regulate my eating. I engage in a healthy level of physical activity to keep my body fit. I don’t drink except at specific social outings, and even then that only happens once every few months.

I’m proud to say that I now manage my body in a way that’s to its highest good, and I can’t think of anyone who can be a better owner of my body than me myself.

Here are some questions to get you going in being the best owner of your body:

  1. What is your ideal, healthiest diet for your body?
  2. What is your ideal level of physical activity that will keep your body at prime condition?
  3. What lifestyle habits/changes will make the biggest difference in your life?
  4. Do you have any bad habits which are jeopardizing your body and which you should cut right away? What are they?
  5. For your answers to Q1–4, how can you start realizing them today?
For more on cultivating habits:

Wrapping Up

Looking back, this series has been a long time coming. I remember wanting to write this series since several years ago, but not being able to pen it as I had yet to overcome my body-image issue then. I’m glad that I have finally resolved the issue to write this series today.

I have shared my story with my body image issues and how I have overcome them. I have shared the specific steps on how you can address your body image issues with today’s guide. It’s now up to you to apply the steps to regain a positive relationship with your body.

Body image is a topic close to my heart, along with topics like anger, emotional eating, and singlehood. For future articles, I hope to delve deeper into as-of-yet uncovered topics of femininity and sexuality, which are things which I feel are highly relevant in the realm of self-development.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this series. Let me know how you have found it and what you would like to see for upcoming articles. (Thanks to all of you who have commented in the earlier parts of the series—I really appreciate everything that you have to share!)

This is the last part of four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Image: Female bodies

  • Sayaka

    Thank you very much Celes for this series!
    I truly have a better insight about myself regarding why I emotional eat and why I hate my body so much.
    I found it true for myself also that I have been wanting to be fat, so I can attract less male attention. Don’t get me wrong, its not that I don’t want to feel attractive or attract men, I mean, I would be delighted. Its just every time I think about men, I get this feeling of fear, out of nowhere. Usually happens when I have successfully lost a decent amount of weight. I then would feel hopeless and eat, gaining back the weight I lost. I know that my emotional eating has more to do than worrying about men and how they see me, but I now understand why I felt fear when I felt like my body was getting smaller. Secretly another part of me was scared, embarrassed of the attention I got, or might get further on…I feel inadequate..I feel like as a women, I lack “something”, and once any men get to know me, they would just get turned off, and totally not want to be with me. I think having social anxiety plays a huge role in wanting to be a certain way in front of others for the fear of neglect and judgement, so I need to work on that.

    Thank you Celes, and I would like to read articles that talk about relationship and singlehood. Due to my low self esteem, I have never dated anyone, let alone held hands with men. I really want to though :)

    xoxo

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Sayaka, sure! Go ahead and read those articles in the articles section. You can navigate there through the top header, then look for the section on “Dating & Romance” and “Relationships” – I’ve already covered extensively on those topics on the site; hopefully you will find the pieces as helpful as well. :D

  • http://hackmyheart.com Alexa

    This is great, Celes! The step that most stuck out to me was to look at my body/the different parts of it without any preconceived notion of what it should look like. Often I look at my smile and think, “Why does it look so bad/strange? Other people have naturally beautiful smiles…” but at the same time, I was fortunate enough to get braces while growing up so my teeth would be straight. What more can I do? Well, I can make more of an effort to floss/use mouth wash in addition to the brushing I do twice a day, and wear my retainer (which unfortunately I’ve woefully neglected since getting my braces removed…sigh. Good job, past-me. =( ).

    I have several other body-image issues as well, but I can already see how I can begin to change how I think about them all. Thank you, Celes, for taking these thoughts and changing them from something I thought I was stuck living with, to something I know I can combat and at the very least lessen their impact on me.

    I hope I can also get others to realize this as well. Society as a whole is much too focused on standards that for many are unachievable!

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thank you Alexa! :)

      Society as a whole is much too focused on standards that for many are unachievable!

      Yes, more importantly, these standards shouldn’t even be regarded as “standards”. They are nothing more than a type of look out of the many types of looks people can have. Everyone is beautiful. This is something I always want to strive. Everyone is beautiful–equally beautiful. No one look is more or less beautiful than another. (More on this in the beauty of self article.)

  • dew

    hi celes,
    this was totally awesome!!!! i’m so happy to be one of ur articles’ most consistent readers….
    oh….. i love u….. thank u tonnes for this….
    i finally found somthing i did not know i was searching. u gave us all a great gift…an idea of how lucky i am….

    thank u so much…. write more and often….
    p.s please would u write and how to study effectively and how to be an awesome writer like u?
    please…. :) thank u…. i will love me BETTER….. ;)

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey dew! There are already a few pieces on effective studying/learning on PE, plus Daniel Wong is the current academia columnist on PE, contributing one piece on how to be a better student in the fourth week of every month. Check out the Studies & School category here :)http://personalexcellence.co/blog/category/studies/

  • muna

    hey celes

    It looks like every time you read my mind. I am on a weight loss routine and this series is what i needed most, thank you so much for the great thoughts. I don’t remember how i found you and throughout it has been a wonderful experience.

    This article addresses my current and “biggest’ issue of my life i.e-weight loss . Every time when i lose weight I somehow gain all of then back in no time and this creates a chain of self depressing and demotivating thoughts which made me gain the weight in the first place, This was an never ending cycle of my life.

    I understand that its in my mind that is creating this cycle and its about me not feeling great about myself which harbors my emotional eating.

    I will work on myself on the points you specified and will try to keep my weight in check by keeping a positive outlook of myself..

    Thanks a ton. you are such a sweetheart….

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi muna, it’s so great that you are able to read the series and comprehend that it is really about correcting our inner psyches when it comes to fixing weight loss/weight regain issues. If you have been trying to lose weight for a while and keep regaining your weight each time you try, chances are there is self-sabotage going on and you need to delve into the root issues. I hope that you find resolution to your issue soon; you definitely will if you follow the steps outlined in this entire series. :)

  • Bob

    Hi Celes,

    I love that you highlighted Nick Vujicic – his motto is from “No Limbs To No Limits” a wonderful person.

    I just found an awesome website for people who are seriously interested in changing their body weight http://www.myfitnesspal.com/. It not only let’s you set your goal to loose/gain weight, but it tells
    - you where you are going wrong, for example where you are not eating enough or too much.
    - where you will be in 1 month if you continue to eat what you did today

    Great series Celes, I am thinking about all the points especially being the best owner of my body.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thank you so much Bob. :D I’m glad the series is getting you thinking. I hope it’s stirring the rest to think about how they treat their bodies and how to be better owners of their bodies as well. :)

      • Bob

        It’s definitely getting me thinking Celes. There are so many things we can do nowadays, if we want to change our bodies from the simple to the complicated:
        - eat to suit our needs
        - buy new clothes
        - do some exercise
        - dye our hair, buy a wig, have a hair transplant
        - have plastic surgery to change a feature
        - even change sex

        I think a great start is to begin accepting how we are and know that with time we can change almost anything we don’t like. Criticism of a bulbous nose can be turned into praise, to see it as a distinguishing feature and love it for what it is.

        • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

          The examples you cited on changing our bodies from simple to complicated are so interesting, Bob! So true that many things we do nowadays is all about modification… possibly changing ourselves into someone we aren’t. I think it’s about being conscious of our decisions about our body and taking on only the changes which are rooted in love vs. fear… fear-based changes are changes we make just to seek approval, to elicit compliments, out of self-body-hate, etc. … whereas love-based changes are changes we make to because we treasure our bodies and want to make them better (better diet, exercise, etc.).

          • Bob

            Hey Celes,

            Re: “…many things we do nowadays is all about modification”

            Isn’t the goal of life to refine ourselves as best we can in a loving manner and help others to do the same?

            A diamond wouldn’t look nearly as beautiful if it wasn’t cut and polished to reflect the light to its maximum. I think it is the same with people. When we see the beauty in someone whether mentally, spiritually or physically it stirs the soul and reminds us to reflect/show/strive for our beauty as well.

            How about changing ourselves mentally and spiritually?

            Mentally
            - Change our thought patterns and attitudes
            - Learn to control and master our emotions
            - Think, act, be positive ie. finding the good in everything even if it is buried deep.
            - Increase our skill level from inefficient to effective to inspiring.

            Spiritually
            - Meditate, Pray, Repeat mantras/affirmations
            - Realise we are all connected
            - Spread positive vibrations

            • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

              Isn’t the goal of life to refine ourselves as best we can in a loving manner and help others to do the same?

              Hey Bob, it definitely is! But as I mentioned in my previous reply, when the source of the “refinement” is coming from fear, it creates a problem because that fear can never go away through refinement, but rather, through addressing the fear itself. For example, someone who does cosmetic surgery because she (or even he) can’t accept her looks and wants to gain approval. While the person may be happy with the first procedure initially, she will keep wanting more and more if/when she fails to get the complete praise/approval of other people over time (surrounding her looks).

              Or say, someone who keeps wanting to grow because he/she thinks he/she is “not good enough”. The person will keep feeling unhappy and keep berating him/herself for every little thing gone wrong, rather than truly thrive in the growth. The most sustainable and conscious type of growth comes from someone who wants to grow because he/she truly enjoys the process of betterment and genuinely loves him/herself such that he/she would want to grow even when there is no pushing force to. (It’s a drive that comes from within).

              Ultimately, love-based drivers are the key over fear-based drivers. The notion of love-based vs. fear-based is pretty much parallel to the concept of power vs. force which I covered in levels of consciousness.

  • http://ferventlife.wordpress.com/;https://twitter.com/FerventL Zvioletz

    I love how you can put things into words so detailed, Celes. Some points you mentioned were what I have done earlier when I started learning how to accept myself but I tend to forget (like what you mentioned earlier, it’s a back and forth game).

    I used to finish all the food I have on plate, loved buffets, indulged my sweet tooth and loved partying (drinking and staying up late, even when I was home), even when I was exercising. I could live without staples but not pastries). All these happened even after I lost 18kg. I realized these thoughts were ill-tuned when I got myself into a health scare.

    Today, I am proud to say I jog regularly (3-4 days of 40min) and hike occasionally, I now appreciate food (chew slowly with appropriate portions), reject fried food and gassy drinks, cut down on caffeines and pastries (selecting wholemeals), take meals on regular basis, regulated my sleeping hours and reduced partying. I appreciate my weekends more by waking up early (rather than sleeping in) and enjoy relaxing myself in the nature.

    However, these are not yet my ideal diet and lifestyle. Even after accepting myself and started loving myself more, I still tend to fluctuate in between days when my routines are mixed up (for instance travelling, eating in places without better choices, outdoor gatherings). And, I find that it’s all in our heads. It is not easy to reach 100% and live ideally throughout our lives but we will always be living to improve and challenge ourselves. That would be good enough for me.

    This post will serve me a great reminder for a long time. Appreciate it very much, Celes.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thank you very much Zvioletz :). I’m really glad to hear that you have turned around your past issues with food and a not-so-conducive lifestyle. I believe that giving ourselves sufficient rest, quality food, fitness, etc. is part of honoring our bodies. Like you said, it’s about always living to improve and challenge ourselves (rather than striving to be a certain set point and staying that way).

      Thanks for your kind comment and I’m so glad that you have found this series/post helpful! :)

  • http://lifemosaique.wordpress.com/ Lina

    I think I’ll print this out and stick it somewhere where I can see it: “The most important thing to note is that this is your body, your life. Don’t mold your body just to match others’ visions. Work towards a body that you love, first and foremost. You are the key target audience of your body; everyone else is secondary. Look good for yourself first, then worry about what others think (or better still, don’t worry at all).” It’s exactly what each of us should hear/see every single day, right before they start doing anything else.

    The first time I heard about Nick Vujicic was about 2 years ago I think, and I remember how moved I was and how it opened my eyes: I’m actually really lucky to be a healthy, whole, strong human-being, just like you said, Celes. We often take our bodies for granted, not fully appreciating what they do for us on a daily basis.

    As I’ve written in all of my comments, this series has truly struck a chord inside me, because I can relate with a lot of things which you’ve shared with us. It takes courage to speak about your own pain and struggles so hats-off to you, Celes :) As always, the articles were well structured and, ever since I found PE back in 2011, I’ve loved this principle: look for the root cause. It’s the true way to solve your issues.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thank you Lina. :D I’m glad that my sharing in this series has resonated with you and you have found it helpful. :D

      Like you said, we are very lucky to be healthy, whole, strong human beings. If everyone can realize this and stop hating on their bodies, the world will be a happier place. The biggest thing is for us to start the change ourselves, starting today, by recognizing and appreciating the things we do like about our bodies (Tip #1) and building the love from there.

    • Bob

      Nice new photo Lina!

      Re – I’ve loved this principle: look for the root cause. It’s the true way to solve your issues. – How very true, thumbs up Lina. I keep looking for the root cause, think what’s the effect(s) and ask myself why?

      • http://lifemosaique.wordpress.com/ Lina

        Thank you, Bob!

        And yes, that ensures a definitive change. It’s easier to solve only the surface aspects of whatever problems you’re having, but it’s not going to last.

  • lauramich

    You make some excellent, really helpful points here. However, I want to note that not all body image issues stem from weight/fitness issues. I thought I had body image problems when I weighed almost 300 pounds? They were nothing compared to the body hatred I fell into when I was faced with infertility. By then I’d lost the weight, but instead of being able to rejoice in my new fitness, it was merely a silver lining, a consolation prize instead of what I wanted most by then—a baby.

    Then, one year after my husband and I had decided to give up on having a biological child, I found myself pregnant! I stayed active throughout, had a healthy pregnancy and relatively quick, drug-free delivery … ideal, right? Then … my son lost over 13% of his weight in four days, and a lactation consultant (!) gave us a small bottle of formula. I kept working with her to try to boost my milk supply, but I was never able to provide more than 1/4 to 1/3 of his needs, despite trying everything my LC suggested. Turns out I have insufficient glandular tissue—no amount of galactalogues could force my broken breasts to produce enough to feed my son. I’d always hated the way my saggy, droopy breasts looked, but I assumed that was because I wore the wrong bras as a teenager, or because of years of weight loss and gain; I figured they’d at least function when I needed them to. But the very things I hated about the way my breasts looked turned out to be danger flags signalling that they would not, in fact, function properly.

    So in a way, breastfeeding failure hurt my body image even worse than being fat, even worse than infertility. Being fat hurt just me. Infertility hurt both me and my husband. But not being able to exclusively breastfeed (and giving up completely after 5 months when my son started rejecting it) … I normally try to resist thinking that life isn’t fair, but it truly seemed unfair that I was unable to nourish this tiny, vulnerable person the way he deserved to be nourished. Even now, I feel slapped whenever I encounter someone implying that formula-feeding an infant is selfish or lazy … in my case, it was the only way to nourish him.

  • Janey

    Celes,

    Thank you so much for this heartfelt series. I have always found your articles extremely inspiring and on many occasions it has seemed that you were reading my mind. But this series has been exceptional, and although I’d never want anyone to suffer, it is comforting to know that I’m not the only one that has been through this pattern of losing weight only to gain it again and the feelings of hating your body so much you have to punish it.

    I have suffered with weight issues for as long as I can remember, but my biggest problem has always been my bad skin. Although I’m not sure how changing my thinking and perception will help clear up my skin problems (something I have suffered from since I was about 6) I’m going to try. Females seem to constantly compare themselves to idealised images of beauty, be they in the media or people we know, even our best friends and this never seems to improve our self esteem. You are so right when you say we are the ideal image of beauty, none of us are the same and we shouldn’t compare ourselves positively or negatively against others. We should simply try to live our best life, for ourselves, now.

    Thank you so much Celes. I hope you and all your readers who have suffered similarly put your advice into practice and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • http://modernhealthmonk.com Alexander

    Hey Celes -

    I’m really happy that you brought this up.. it’s a crazy important subject. Until I was coaching/training people in the health industry, I had no idea about some of the body image beliefs holding people back. For example, many many people told me that it was “easier” to be overweight and ugly, because then they didn’t need to try and be attractive. I thought this was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard… but then it also made sense as to why people wouldn’t try and get healthy.

    It’s crazy how much personal growth happens just when getting healthy.

  • sara

    Thanks a lot for this useful series. I can relate to this well. You have mentioned exactly what I really need to know about my body weight and as well as my ideal vision of my body.
    I’m very grateful for your helpful advice. I found them all extremely true.
    All best

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