I Hate My Body. What Do I Do?
Updated March 25, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Robin Brock
Maybe you stare in the mirror and think, “I hate my body.” Or perhaps every picture you see of yourself, you jokingly say, “I hate my body.” Whatever it may be, you have a negative body image, and it is tearing you down.
Body dysmorphic disorder and body image issues have become an epidemic in today’s modern society. With constant exposure to social media and a societal obsession with “the perfect body,” people find themselves paying attention to their bodies more and more.
You might fixate on the body in the mirror and obsesses about body parts you previously thought were just fine. Your physical appearance could become your number one worry in everyday life, consuming your thoughts and impeding day-to-day life. Some people even fall into a vicious cycle of restricting food intake, frustration, binging, and negative thoughts.
You are not alone in this thinking. In fact, most Americans, 79%, were unsatisfied with their bodies at some point in their life.
This is particularly sad when you consider everything our bodies can and everything they do for us. Your body is more than just a vehicle. The nervous system spreads throughout the body, and your mental and physical health are very closely intertwined. Hatred toward your body quickly becomes hatred toward yourself, and it can be quite detrimental. Please understand that your feelings are normal, and there is nothing wrong with you or the way you think. There are ways to overcome body image issues and live a healthier, less anxious lifestyle.
How can you combat these negative thoughts and find ways to start being happier in your bodies?
This article will discuss some of the options that you have to overcome hatred toward your own body and move towards forming a healthier relationship with yourself and your body image.
- Determine If There Are Deeper Roots To Your Unhappiness
Many times, poor body image stems from specific behavior or moments in your life.
Perhaps it’s staring at old pictures of yourself, toxic individuals in your life, or constantly comparing yourself to the people around you. If you find yourself saying, “I hate my body,” you must find out why.
Ask yourself, why do I hate my body? Go beyond simplistic answers about specific features. Delve into your past experiences and subconscious anxieties. Ask difficult questions. The better you understand your insecurities, the more equipped you will be to understand your judgments.
Consider this: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with your body just for how it looks. The aesthetic flaws that you think your body has are a projection from your own mind. Where did these ideas come from? Who decided that your body should look different than it already does?
Once you uncover the root of your negative body image, you are one step closer to tackling it—some methods to find these negativity sources are journaling, talking to someone, and meditation. Recounting your thoughts will help uncover what lies under the surface of your bad thoughts.
- Focus On More Important Aspects Of Yourself
This is easier said than done. You cannot help but have a preoccupation with your appearance at some points.
However, an obsession with appearance cannot rule your everyday life.
To battle this, you must look beyond just the body in the mirror. You have to be grateful for the things your body provides you besides the image. Instead of repeating, “I hate my body” in your head, start repeating, “I’m grateful my body.”
This is easier for some than others, but that does not mean you have to go at it alone. There is plenty of behavioral therapy and therapists trained to help these mental health issues.
You must not let negativity rule your life. Having that nagging voice in your head shaming your body image will never help you overcome bad habits. Think instead of how your body lets you work harder and get stronger daily. Or perhaps how your body brought children into the world. There is much more to you than just your body parts.
Once you take up a more positive mantra, you will be one step closer to body acceptance. Focus on goals beyond waistlines and thigh gaps. Find fitness goals such as new push-up records or new mile times. Look at food as your medicine. The nutrients that it carries are what give you a capable body and a sharp mind. Set mindfulness goals such as more pages read in motivational books or happy novels.
Finding goals bigger than your body dysmorphia will help you realize your true value beyond looks.
- Work On Your Mental Health
You cannot begin to reshape your poor body image unless your mind is healthy.
Weight gain should not send you into a negative thought spiral. Embrace the changes. Your body will change throughout your life, just as you do. This is expected and healthy.
There is a common misconception that body issues always stem from a desire to be more desirable or beautiful. But often, body issues have a lot more to do with a sense of control. Perhaps a person dealing with unresolved trauma looks to edit their body, feeling as though their body is the only thing they have that control over. It may be important for you to realize that body image anxieties do not stem from your physical body but rather from your mental perception of it.
If you let self-destructive thoughts continue, you run the risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding body image. This disorder can then lead to eating disorders, binging purging, and other mental health issues.
Seeking outside help, such as cognitive behavioral therapy CBT, can change your way of thinking and help you lead a healthier life. There are thousands of professionals across the country who are trained to help individuals experiencing similar thoughts.
If you worry about an eating disorder or anxiety disorder affecting your relationship health or the mental health of your loved ones, consider a free consultation with Regain.Us. After one free class, the counselor will tell you if you should invest in further psychological help.
- Take A Break From Social Media
Beauty standards are continually changing. Some eras of history celebrated pale skin and broad foreheads. In Elizabethan times, English women plucked their hairline to appear like they had a prominent forehead like the queen. A modern audience might read that and think, “That’s nasty.” But are we so different?
Major social media influencers, who have sometimes spent more than six figures on plastic surgery, edit their physical appearance, then sell products that promise to make us look more like them. Ask yourself, Has the beauty industry given me a complex with my physical appearance so that they may profit off it?
Social media has lasting effects on body image and mental health. It is a constant barrage of other individuals, and we often find ourselves comparing our lives. You correspond the parts of your body to the parts of the bodies you see on a screen. You fall into a self-shaming cycle because you don’t believe that you are living up to the examples seen on the internet. This could lead to a body dysmorphic disorder.
You can get a false sense of what your body image is supposed to be because you are comparing it to face tunes and filters.
Take a break from these mediums from time to time. You do not have to cut yourself off cold turkey, but delete Instagram for an hour, an afternoon, a day and see if you think about your body image as much.
Do not run the risk of an eating disorder by comparing yourself to fake bodies. Unfollow pages that make you feel poorly about yourself. It is not worth it, and your mental health will thank you.
Social media can also create poor body image because it exposes you to so many people. You see millions of individuals you do not even know and would not have seen otherwise every time you log onto a social media platform.
Find role models in your day-to-day life. Find people you consider beautiful or attractive, people you know, work with, and respect. Ask yourself, why do I admire this person? You may find that your admiration and affection do not stem from specific physical features but rather from the empathy they have for other people, their knowledge in their field, or the passion they have for a craft. This confident beauty, intelligence, and leadership are far more powerful than the two-dimensional images on your phone.
- Roll With The Changes
Having a negative perception of your body is just made worse if you have recently changed your organization.
Weight gain, weight loss, childbirth, anything can make you pick up the “I hate my body” mantra.
If you start to see the signs of body dysmorphic behavior and create a poor body image, get ahead of it. Throw out clothes that don’t fit anymore and create a new wardrobe. It is tempting to keep the old clothes, maybe thinking, “I’ll lose weight. I’ll fit into them again.”
They can only bring negative thoughts and lead to behaviors such as restricting eating. Fitting into an old pair of jeans is not worth it and buying a new pair is more fun! Don’t shame yourself for clothes that don’t look right, purchase new ones that look good and feel good.
The only constant in life changes. As you move through life, you will inevitably experience emotional, intellectual, and spiritual changes. It’s only natural that your body will change along with you. Do not hate yourself or punish yourself for moving through life phases that are entirely normal, healthy, and even beautiful. If you are worried because your body has changed- guess what, it’s not the last time. That’s okay. Go with the flow.
- Take Care Of Yourself
You are more than a body. You are a human being, worthy, and deserving of self-love.
Treat yourself. Saying to yourself, “I hate my body,” having a negative body image, and bashing yourself constantly will not lead to results.
You need to pamper yourself and treat your body the way it needs to be addressed. Try behaviors like spa trips, eating healthy, and giving yourself the required attention. These things will change your mental health and help prevent weight gain.
Pay attention to the parts of your body that you would hate under different circumstances. If your legs are a problem area that you tend to focus on, indulge in a bubble bath soak and moisturize your legs for a while. If you start to have signs of body dysmorphia, treat yourself to a good wake and a nice, healthy meal. Your body will thank you.
- Don’t Forget Basic Care.
Self-care is only one part of the larger equation. You must maintain basic human care that is often neglected and can lead to larger health issues.
One major issue is drinking water and staying hydrated. People often forget such a quintessential part of existence. Another factor that can lead to health issues is sleep deprivation. Not giving your body the sleep that it needs will have negative effects on all areas. Not only can sleep slow deprivation metabolism, but it can contribute to your poor body image through mental health effects. The obsessive-compulsive disorder will only worsen with less sleep, and you will only say, “I hate my body” more.
Body dysmorphia is a debilitating condition that can impede every aspect of your life. If you have body dysmorphia, you might focus on a body part and let it rule your world. It can lead to obsessive-compulsive tendencies and deteriorate mental health.
If you know a family member or friend suffering from body dysmorphia or have familial experiences with body dysmorphia, it may be best to refer them for cognitive behavioral therapy. A condition can worsen quickly and frequently turns into larger issues. It is better to reach out for help before the image of parts of your body starts to rule your world. There is no shame in looking for help, and behavioral therapy CBT can have effects that translate over into all aspects of life.
If you cannot get to a therapist due to current world health conditions or other limiting factors, consider online therapy. Online counseling often offers cognitive behavioral therapy to help with compulsive disorder and help you to stop fixating on body parts. It can be done with or without a partner.
Do not let body dysmorphia control your life. There are plenty of steps you can take to fight this condition and appease your negative thoughts. You are not alone in this fight.
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