Excerpt from It's Not Him, It's You!
Just like any other part of your self-image, the way you think and feel about your body is a choice—and it is something that you can control. For women, especially, it can be very difficult to keep thoughts about the body positive. Following these steps can help you learn to love and appreciate your body.
1. Identify your best assets, then play them up. Maybe you have bright eyes or a brilliant smile. Maybe your legs go on for miles, or you have charming freckles. There are a million little things that make your own beauty uniquely alluring.
2. Build a beauty routine that you are proud of. Taking good care of your skin, hair, and body helps you connect with and enjoy your body.
3. Notice how outer beauty is colored by what's inside. Show regular kindness and strength and you will see people naturally gravitate toward you.
Even if you do not fit the clinical diagnosis for an eating disorder, your body image has probably negatively affected your life at one point or another. Maybe you avoid the beach, maybe you stay in on Saturday nights, or maybe you are afraid to disrobe in front of your spouse. In an attempt to lose weight, you might embark on restrictive diets (no carbs, no white foods, no eating past 6:00 pm), or you might develop very ritualized eating patterns (eating only from a certain plate, extending meal time by chewing very slowly, indulging in a weekly "cheat day" in which your eating habits are wild and out of control).
These are signs of disordered eating, and nearly three out of four American women participate in these habits. Unfortunately, many symptoms of disordered eating are now considered quite normal. Most women would think nothing of it if a friend said she wasn't eating carbohydrates anymore, or if her mother mentioned she was going on a fruit and veggie fast. Society practically shouts at us that there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, no matter what your size or shape. In reality, losing weight is healthy only if you are legitimately overweight and are choosing safe methods of weight loss. However, research has found that 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight. Moreover, many women are choosing to lose weight through restrictive or dangerous diets, or through expensive diet supplements.