Myth 4: Having a positive body image implies that you always feel great about your body and appearance
Incorrect– The tendency to compare one’s self to others is part of human nature. To say that having a positive body image means that one is never touched by the ”perfect body” images and messages is unrealistic. Having a positive body image does not mean that you do not see, hear or think of the ”perfect body” standards that society dictates nor have an emotional reaction when you are exposed to them. The difference lays in the extent that it impacts you and what you do about it.
In having a positive body image you are aware of how society’s unrealistic standards may influence your thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviours. You choose to let go of the negative emotions that rise after the exposure to the messages/images, rather than internalizing them or letting them influence your thoughts about yourself. You disregard, challenge, rejected or reframed society’s messages rather than take it in as truths, as well as, you are more conscious of the choices that you make that can expose you to these messages (e.g. people who are not like minded, magazines, fat talks etc). You choose to focus more on self –acceptance, the positive aspects of yourself and your appearance rather than focus on your perceived flaws.
In having a positive body image you are willing to be more flexible and realistic with your own standards and assumptions. That also means that you choose to challenge your negative thoughts when they pop up, regulate emotions that are distressing to you and you adjust or eliminate unhelpful behaviours that make you unhappy with your appearance.
It does not mean that some days will not be harder than others, but your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and choices will no longer be held hostage by the body image. Having a positive body image is a journey and process not an end destination that requires no up keeping. If you perceive each difficult day as a growing and learning opportunity, you will know what you still need to work on and how to strengthen your body image even more. It is a question of applying the necessary strategies to ascertain the balance and positivity again, that is all. It takes determination, persistence and effort to take care, appreciate and embrace yourself as you are but it is possible and it is worth it.