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!