Cultivating a Positive Body Image

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on June 11, 2012

Cultivating a positive body image can be such a difficult thing to do. I think most women (myself included) have struggled to love their body at some point during their life. Most of us have aspects of our figures that we wish were different. This is especially true during childbearing years, when it can be hard to watch the scale go up and down and to adjust to an ever changing silhouette.

Given that it’s so much easier to criticize our bodies than it is to find things to love about them, I came up with a little list of steps we can take to counter the self-loathing and learn to delight in our figures a bit more. Because I think life is so much more enjoyable when you feel at least a little bit pretty, don’t you?

 

Give Thanks – When we take time to recognize and thank God for the many amazing things that our bodies can do, we naturally start to believe that which the media would deny – that all bodies, young and old, voluptuous and thin, and sick and healthy, have inherent value and possess a beauty all their own. What wonders they are with their ability to bring forth new life, endure suffering, heal from illness, achieve athletic goals, and delight our husbands.

Nurture Your Body – Fueling your body with healthy food and strengthening it with exercise breeds appreciation. In much the same way that it is impossible to hate an enemy if you are praying for them, it is nearly impossible to hate a body into which you are pouring love.

And Pamper It, Too! – God gave us bodies not only so that they may serve us, others, and–ultimately–Him, but also so that we could enjoy and revel in them! Treat yourself to bubble baths, massages, dips in the hot tub, or whatever brand of pampering delights you most. Learning to see our bodies as a source of pleasure is a very effective (and enjoyable!) way of learning to value them.

Accept Compliments with Grace – It may feel awkward at first if you’re not in the habit of thanking people when they praise you, but it won’t take long for this habit to become second-nature. Learning to accept praise from others will help you learn to love and praise yourself. Choose to trust in the sincerity of others and accept that they see beauty in you even though you may initially have trouble spotting it yourself.

Make Love (assuming you are married, of course) – Decide ahead of time to instantly silence any self-criticism that may pop into your mind. Just focus on loving and on being loved. In doing so, you will give your husband the honor of introducing you to your beauty.

Cloth Yourself in Things You Love – Choosing to wear things that bring you happiness is a lovely way to celebrate your body. The key to ensuring that this is truly of benefit to you, is to refuse to be a slave to the latest trends. Embrace styles, colors, and materials that make you, and you alone, happy. Acknowledge the value of your body by adorning it in beautiful things that fill you with delight.

I’d love to hear any advice you might have to share with women who are struggling to cultivate a positive body image!

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

kallah oakes June 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I love this so much! So many people want to help women get a better self-image, but few are actually able to give us PRACTICAL tips to do this! :)
I think the second one – about Nurture – is especially insightful. So very true!
Thanks Hallie!
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Hallie @ Betty Beguiles June 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thanks so much, Kallah! You’re so sweet. :)
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Kimberlie June 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

One thing I have done lately is to not look at magazines that only display women with the idealized Hollywood body image. I found that the more I read “women’s” magazines, the more I felt like an ugly woman. It didn’t matter how much I told myself about their liberal use of airbrushing. I also stopped looking in the mirror to validate my confidence. If I put an outfit on and I feel beautiful and confident, sometimes I look in the mirror and start to catalog all my flaws. I just do a quick check to make sure everything is where it should be, but I don’t linger. :)
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Hallie @ Betty Beguiles June 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

These are great tips, Kimberlie! Thank you, love!
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Moira June 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Hallie, thank you! This was absolutely lovely!

One of my tricks is to look into a full-length mirror. I notice that when I just see the top half of myself, I don’t feel very good about things, but when I see the whole picture, everything looks balanced. Also, I get to see my shoes that way. Do not underestimate the power of shoes to make a killer outfit. I find it is worth wearing them around the house because I feel prettier:)

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bobbi @ revolution of love June 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This is fabulous! I love it! It’s a reminder we all need. I especially like #2 – nurture, since it is so easy to let that slide and #5 – making love. We are so vulnerable at that time and sometimes I’ll think about something that I don’t like about my body but I just try to turn off that negative voice and focus on the fact that my husband does not care about [fill-in-the-flaw], he loves me as I am and just wants to be with me. That is liberating. ;-)
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Hallie @ Betty Beguiles June 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

It is liberating, isn’t it? I guess we should listen to our husbands more. ;)
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Amy@Diapeepees June 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I have to say that it is a great booster to have a husband who is an ample complimenter.
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Amy@Diapeepees June 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

PS I think my husband may have even taught me a few lessons in this area! I’ve got to do better at complimenting him!
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Renee June 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I needed this today! Excellent tips and reminders… Thank you, truly. It is hard to turn off the negative self talk, especially if we were “programmed” from our youth. And it doesn’t just affect us…it can affect our relationships with our husbands. Thanks for being a sister-friend when a girl needs it. :)

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Hallie @ Betty Beguiles June 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm

What a peach you are, Renee! Thank you so much for your kindness! It was a bit of a tough day so let me just say: ditto.
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Michelle P. June 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm

This is fantastic. Thank you! I’m in my 32nd week of pregnancy right now and feel so huge and bloated. It’s nice to have a reminder to give thanks for my many blessings.
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Hallie @ Betty Beguiles June 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Congratulations! You may feel huge but you looked absolutely gorgeous in the Mother’s Day post! I would kill to look that adorable during pregnancy! ;)
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Rhonda @ A Naptime Novelist June 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

This is a great topic. I have a question and a possible answer to it:

I’m all for self-care. Self-care means we treat ourselves with the dignity that we have (and that body is a temple of the Holy Spirit!).

But… what is the proper place of self-abnegation/penance/etc. in treating one’s body well, in proper self-care? Would it fall under #2, pouring love into our bodies? After all, getting off the couch and exercising… well, you know. It can be penance. :)

I know that some can take an idea of penance too far, and as we’re talking body image here, I’m not suggesting that penance actually looks like anything in particular. I don’t know myself, but I bet that, for some, eating *enough* food would require great courage and grace. And therefore penance would be pouring love into our bodies, even when we don’t want to do it.

??
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Alison Solove @ExperimentalWifery June 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

This is a lovely post! I’ve really struggled with my body image since the birth of my 22″, 9 1/2 lb. son. (I’m 5’2″, so carrying him two weeks overdue really took a toll on my body.)

Ballet has been a great way to add muscle tone and grace, both of which make me feel more beautiful.

I’ve also had to get rid of many pre-pregnancy clothes I can still get on because, even at my pre-pregnancy weight, they now fit in a way that doesn’t make me feel beautiful anymore.
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JMB June 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

Taking a group exercise class on a regular basis has done wonders for my body image. First of all, you realize very quickly that nobody has a perfect body. Secondly, as you progress in your exercise, you begin to appreciate what your body can do. There is nothing like banging out ten one legged push ups to ramp up your self esteem. So “do” something, rather than think about it, and while you’re at it, tell that evil inner voice to take a hike!

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priest's wife (@byzcathwife) June 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

…and be kind to yourself when you try on bathing suits!
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Theresa October 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

I just came across this and it is exactly what I need. I’ve gained too much weight during this current pregnancy and I am really hating the mirror. All of this advice is perfect! Thank you for this wonderful post!
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Jamie May 10, 2013 at 10:34 am

I use the “bounce technique” (and I use it for many areas where negativity can be an easy place to dwell.) I basically have as long a list as I can come up with (usually a mental list, but writing it down could be helpful) of all the positive awesome things and when I notice that my mind is dwelling in a negative space I instantly “bounce” out of it and focus my mind on the list. It’s hard to feel bad when you spend your mental time on the good! I’ve used this as a marriage technique and a “I love my home” technique and it’s really helpful!

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