You Are More Than Just A Body: Tackling Negative Body Image This Summer

Guess what.

Summer is here in a little over two months.

This statement can elicit two emotions: sheer excitement or dread.

Yeah, I know, who could possibly dread summer, right? More people than you would believe, actually.

Here, let me share meme this with you. It may clarify things.

Summer Ready

See what I did there? So, yes, summer is fast approaching, and while summer means bonfires, picnics, concerts, and a whole slew of adventures, for the body conscious it also means bikinis and bathing suits, and not feeling like you quite add up compared to those around you.

Which is terribly, terribly sad. But it’s true. For me, summer used to come with much anxiety. I used to be extremely self-conscious, and wearing a bathing suit meant bearing all of my “imperfections.” Whether or not others viewed me this way, it didn’t matter. I saw someone who was less than, and therefore tainted my summers with self-doubt and extreme diets and let’s just say a whole lot of not fun feelings.

Your body image can make or break you mentally and physically. We’ve all had those moments when we glance in the mirror and are welcomed with horror as we see a new pimple arising or our hair imperfectly placed in every direction. But for those who have consistently negative thoughts about their body image, life can become somewhat daunting. One may shy away from the beach or stay in on a Friday night or avoid a fancy cocktail party. But some let these feelings escalate into more serious issues like depression, alcoholism, or eating disorders. If you believe that this is you, please seek help immediately. You can change the way you think about yourself and I can guarantee that when you are able to see yourself positively you can live a much richer and fuller life.

However, if this is not you, but you find yourself facing negative thoughts about your body image take a look at this article (“Keeping Tabs On Your Changing Body Image”) posted by The interesting thing about our body image is that it’s ever changing. One moment we may feel pleased and content with the way we look, and then one little trigger, one little comment, one little unflattering picture posted on Facebook, and a we spiral downward into a negative world filled with negative thoughts on how we look. The above article helps address these ever changing thoughts, how we can gain control of them, and how we can take steps toward seeing ourselves in a positive light.

Here, take me for example. I have been the same size for the past 5 years. Maybe, I’ve gained or lost a few pounds here and there, but basically I have been the same size. I have looked the same. Dressed the same. Everything with my appearance is the same. However, the way I’ve viewed myself has consistently changed throughout the years. Sometimes, I’ve seen myself negatively. Sometimes, I’ve loved the way I look. My thoughts have been ever changing even though what I’m viewing (i.e.- my body) has not changed. And these thoughts have allowed me to have good days and bad days.

It all boiled down to how I managed the thoughts bouncing around my head. If I saw a picture of myself that was less than flattering, I may have allowed myself to think negatively about how I look, which could in turn cause more negative thoughts about myself and the life I’m living. Yes, sounds a bit extreme, but if you allow negative thoughts to run rampant even for a minute, they are able to gain control of your stream of conscious, and are undoubtedly difficult to disband. So, don’t let it get to that point. Take control as soon as you begin to think negatively. Soothe yourself. Create a list of all of the wonderful things about you, and not just about your physical appearance, because that is fleeting. No, make a list of all of the wonderful things about you as a person, and refer to that list every time a negative thought pops into your head.

Remember, you are more than just a body. You are a living, breathing, loving human being with a beautiful mind, heart, and soul. So, when you’re reminded by a post on Instagram that it’s time to get into bikini body shape, don’t listen to any negative thoughts that may arise from that. And this summer, no matter what shape you are in, enjoy it. Enjoy the beach. Enjoy the family reunion. Enjoy every minute of it, because as I mentioned, your physical appearance is fleeting, but memories will remain far longer.

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I overcame an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression with the help of this wonderfully amazing thing called running. And that's why I'm here - to share my story and to help those who are going through what I've already gone through. On this blog you'll find running tips, mental health tips, and lots of joy. Join me as we piece life together one run at a time.

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