Loving the Skin You're In: Steps to Promote a Positive Body Image

Social media is buzzing over the graceful way that singer Kelly Clarkson handled a woman who engaged in some very unkind, and very public, “fat shaming”, ridiculing Clarkson’s physical size and appearance. Seemingly unaware of the whole incident, when it was explained to Clarkson, she laughed it off and maintained that the critical woman could only say such mean-spirited things because she did not know Clarkson. "I'm awesome! It doesn't bother me.”

Clarkson also went on to say that since having a family, she no longer seeks external acceptance: “It's more if I'm happy and I'm confident and feeling good.” One play of this jubilant duet collaboration between Clarkson and Jimmy Fallon is dancing proof that Clarkson means every single word! This is a woman clearly comfortable in her skin, regardless of how much of it she may currently inhabit. She is celebrating her talent, expressing her joy, and sharing vibrant, creative connections with others.

Kelly Clarkson appears to have a very healthy body image. She is realistic about her self-perception, comfortable in her body, and knows that she is so much more than just her appearance in any given moment. For some people, body image is a constant source of preoccupation, obsession, and self-flagellation. Painful distortions and negative self-perceptions can permeate and undermine every part of the life of someone who holds a poor body image. We have some ideas to help you turn this mindset around if you relate.

Positive Body Image Tips

As Walt Whitman asserts, you are far more than the sum of your body parts! Here are a few suggestions to help you remember that:

  • Practice loving kindness, or at the very least, neutral acceptance, for the specific areas of your body that you wish looked differently.
  • Celebrate and honor the incredibly efficient and miraculous machine that is your body. Make a list of all the amazing things it allows you to do: the freedom you have to move through space, communicate with others, feel the breeze, smell the jasmine. Try to discover a new item or two every day to add to your list; something you can do simply because you have a fabulous body, for which you are grateful!
  • Create a top ten list of things that you like most about yourself totally unrelated to your physical appearance. Are you smart? Witty? Compassionate? Uber-creative in the kitchen? Can you sing gospel, calm a frightened dog, or comfort a child? Every time you feel a bit low, read your list. Quote Kelly Clarkson to yourself: “I know me! I’m awesome!”
  • Treat yourself as well as you treat your loved ones and strangers. You would always consider their feelings and pride before intentionally saying anything to wound them, so grant yourself the same consideration in the way you speak, and think, to yourself.
  • Balance your perspective about how much you weigh with the overall state of your health. Are you fit enough to be as physically active as you like? Are your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels normal? Fit has many shapes and sizes.
  • Compromise with yourself. Dump the all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to what you eat and what you weigh. So many times what people allow themselves to do, or be, or have, is all tied up with a number on the scale. Everything is not black or white; life holds a lot of gray. Accept the gray. Acknowledge your progress. Don’t demand perfection.


Positive Body Image Activities

Are there areas of your life that are too small for you that might cause you to lose perspective and constrict your focus onto your weight and body size? Here are some suggestions:

  • Surround yourself with positive people who remind you of your inner strength and beauty. Hang out only with people with whom you feel safe, seen, cherished, and accepted for exactly who you are, inside and out. If boundary setting is a challenge for you, get support. Your time and energy are precious. Share them with people deserving of them.
  • Employ positive affirmations that really speak to you. Use them to replace the negative self-talk, which is really just a bad habit that you can turn around into a self-supporting one.
  • Dress up your self-esteem in your unique personal style! Wear comfortable clothes that feel good on your body, in colors that make you happy.
  • Express yourself creatively and physically. Mood definitely affects body image, and moods can be shifted by action. Do you think Kelly Clarkson was obsessing about her weight when performing with Jimmy Fallon? Dance, sing, paint, or collage. Perform yoga, Pilates, or take a long, hard walk with your favorite music pounding in your ears.
  • Allow yourself some slack. Depriving yourself of something you really want in the moment in which you desire it can often boomerang later. Resisting a piece of birthday cake now might prompt a binge later, just for compensation’s sake. Don’t create “never allowed” foods. Give yourself the gift of “OK sometimes if I really, really want it” treats.

Help Creating a Positive Body Image Utah

You have this one beautiful life and just this one beautiful body in which to live it. If you struggle with a negative body image or an eating disorder that is getting in the way of living the empowered and meaningful life that you deserve, Pathways Real Life Recovery is here to support you out of the struggle and into the solution.

We hope you’ll be in touch and allow us to offer you personalized attention.

Michelle Amerman
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