Have you ever wondered: What would it take to own a healthy body image? I mean not for a moment. Or just in that dress? Quickly, what are the first words that come to your mind when I say “Think about your body”? Did ‘fat’ or ‘old’ or some variation thereof pop into your mind? You are definitely NOT alone. Achieving a healthy body image with unconditional acceptance is both challenging and possible. If you practice the Diamond Self (DS) Body image hack.
The truth is that when we women relate to our appearance we are almost always in a judgmental, critical and PICKY mode. We view our bodies through an awfulizing lens, where each pound seems to be like 10, each dimple of cellulite is like a sea of orange peel skin, each wrinkle is like a crevice that draws all the attention. This is because we unconsciously use a compare and despair function, where we compare ourselves to impossible-to-achieve size 0, 20-something ideals of beauty. From every ad, TV shows, movies, and even social media have blasted these images of thinness, youth and perfect air-brushed beauty into us on a daily basis.
No one has a perfect body. Those photos you see of celebs in magazines are retouched. Those actors in movies and TV are layered in makeup and have body doubles half the time. Those models you see on the runways are usually struggling with eating disorders that can have them looking like skeletons in real life. The obsession with being thin, young and perfect-looking is the bane of our culture. Every woman in this culture suffers from what I call the body blues at some point in their adolescent and adult lives.
Owning a Healthy Body Image No Matter What
In this blog we are going to do body love DS work to help you be at home physically, confident about your appearance, and relishing having a healthy body image, no matter what your age or dress size. We will develop a Diamond Self Body (DSB) name for you, a secret weapon to use anytime. It will be a real lifesaver whenever you are:
- Going clothes shopping (especially for bathing suits!)
- Feeling old, fat, invisible or ugly
- Self-conscious about any part of your face or body
- Seeing a lot of blemishes, cellulite or other imperfections
- Noticing new wrinkles or gray hair
- Experiencing physical shame or self-loathing
- About to make love
- At the beach
- Anxious about meeting a new dating match
- Preparing to go on a date
- Want to dance and be free physically
- When being photographed
- About to give a presentation
- In any situation where you will be getting a lot of attention.
Owning a Healthy Body Image: Banishing the Body Blues
Using the body love DS secret you’ll be able to banish the body blues and LOVE the way you look—dimpled thighs and all! Because you will be shaping your brain neural networks, you will be transforming the way you feel, look and act. Which means you will be confident in many different situations that used to be challenging and intimidating.
And, drum roll please, you will be more at home and open sensually and sexually (which makes you irresistible to your guy). You will be able to have more intimacy, pleasure and connection when you want it, whether you are dating a hottie or married for many decades. Even if you’ve never seen yourself as sexy before. You can overcome any body shame or guilt issues you may have been struggling with.
“People often say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.” ~Salma Hayek
Owning a Healthy Body: Image War Stories
The fact that beauty lies in our own beholding or perceiving is what makes us able to have a DS body image makeover. But the first step toward this is to look at what our default condition is:
We make up what I call “body image war stories.”
These are attacking thoughts and judgments about our bodies or faces.
You see your flab and you start a story about it in your head, thinking how unattractive and what a complete turn-off it is in bed. You notice you have a pimples on your nose and think to yourself, My face is hideous. I will never attract a good guy. Negative self-talk stories about your appearance can lead you to isolate and hide or feel constricted and self-consciousness, especially in regard to a man you love.
As Naomi Wolf writes in The Beauty Myth:
“A woman who is self-conscious can’t relax to let her sensuality come into play. So if she is “done up” she will be on the alert for her reflection in his eyes. If she is ashamed of her body, its movement will be stilled. If she does not feel entitled to claim attention, she will not demand that airspace to shine in. And if so, he simply will not see her, his real love, standing right before him.”
In fact, it is not the body itself that causes suffering and difficulties in relationships, it is the body image war stories in your head that stop you from being present and shining.
Owning a Healthy Body Image: The Diamond Self Body Make Over
You can break out of your body image war stories, however! By changing this kind of thought pattern. Just like anything else, when it comes to growth, practice makes it all work out. Studies have shown that simple mental exercises can shift your body image even if you are having a flare-up of the body blues.
Here is the first DSB exercise: For a few minutes several times a week, write down a neutral reality-based statement about your body complaint (e.g., “I have cellulite on the backs of my thighs.” Or “I am 10 pounds overweight.”) Read the statement aloud. When a judgment, attack or negative idea comes up, like, “It’s repulsive.” Or “I am a blimp,” simply write it down.
Continue this process, alternating neutral “what’s so” realities and war story attack thoughts about your body complaint until you feel a positive shift in your mood. This will help neutralize any complaints that you have about your body and get your brain into the habit of countering negative war story thoughts with reality-based, more neutral responses.
Healthy Body Image: The 180° Miracle Mirror Exercise
So now we turn things 180° and zero in on the positives. Wear form-fitting but not revealing clothing. Look in the mirror and pick 3 to 5 things that you like about your physical appearance. When practiced regularly, this exercise will shift focus away from your insecurities and on to the physical features that you do appreciate. You have to admit you have sexy feet! That the shape of your breasts is kind of nice. That the curve of your shoulder has a certain beauty to it.
As you look in the mirror mentally send UNCONDITIONAL love to each of the body parts you admire. Then send UNCONDITIONAL love to your whole body and your face. Think, I send you love!
This mirror exercise is especially helpful to do before you go to a social gathering because it will help boost your confidence and help you stop the comparison game, judging yourself against how other people you meet look. It is simple, yet very powerful.
This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world. ~Oprah Winfrey
Owning a Healthy Body Image: Help Your Body Sing with Gratitude
Here is another powerful way to make your body feel good and become healthier. To make it sing with life. Make a gratitude list about your body. In studies it’s been shown that the counting of one’s blessings leads to less depression and a more elevated mood. Feeling gratitude towards your body is doubly powerful in this regard. Because it throws a monkey wrench in your usual barrage of attack thoughts. So I want you to literally send yourself an email that is a gratitude list about your body. Here is an example of one of mine, just to get you started:
Thanks for breathing so well
I love the way you are working to digest food for me
Thanks for my beautiful and acute vision
My toes are awesome
Immense gratitude for my health
Thanks for immediately letting me know when I eat too much
Love my long fingers and being able to type fast and write books
The softness and roundness of my breasts is quite beautiful.
All my love,
Owning a Healthy Body Image: Discovering The Beauty of Your Face
Chances are, you have never really seen your face. You have missed the symmetry, the sparkle that comes from the depths of your eyes, the way your eyebrows frame those eyes. The little crinkles of pure happiness that come from your mouth when you giggle or laugh out loud. Imagine looking at your face like a good archetypal mother or a perfectly loving partner would see it. This is a very important body love DS exercise.
Every day before you brush your teeth, spend three minutes REALLY looking at your face in the mirror. Look for beauty. Look for character. For the twinkle, the sparkle of their soul. Look at the person in the mirror AS IF YOU HAVE JUST FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THEM. What do you notice? Do you see how your beloved you changes from day to day? Do you see the absolute perfection of the imperfections in that face?
The ineffable presence of pure consciousness that is deep in the eyes? So keep looking—it is all there.
Owning a Healthy Body Image: Debra’s Discovery
Here is what happened to Debra, a nurse in our Love Mentoring program who used the Discovering Your Face exercise:
When I hit my forties, I really stopped looking at my face in the mirror. I didn’t want to see aging at work, eroding my skin and dragging down my face. I would just slather on some moisturizer and lip gloss and rush out the door. When my mentor gave me this exercise, I was feeling afraid to actually do it. But the first morning I truly looked at my face in a loving way, I saw the laugh lines that looks so great around my eyes. And my hazel green eyes are well, actually, gorgeous. And kind. Very kind. So funny to say all that! The weird thing is I am making more eye contact with people, including the guys I am dating! And they are calling me back more than ever before.