What do you see when you look in the mirror? Body image is an issue that many struggle to come to terms with, impacting how we feel about ourselves and the choices we make concerning our bodies. Having a healthy body image is an important part of mental wellbeing and eating disorders prevention.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to take stock of how your dealing with your own mental health, what role you can play in developing your mental health conditioning and what practices you can pursue to maintain a good mental health outlook. With this in mind, we’ve connected with Eva Under Fire‘s Eva Marie, who when not fronting her up-and-coming rock band has been licensed as an outpatient psychotherapist, primarily working in the areas of anxiety, depression, grief and substance abuse recovery.
Given her expertise in these areas, Eva has graciously agreed to pen this Loudwire column throughout Mental Health Awareness month, putting a spotlight on specific mental health issues and providing some tips on how you can help cope with each. In this article, Eva takes a closer look at body image and how you can positively address your own views of your body.
Everyone is in process. Make sure you’re allowing yourself to be a “human being” and not just a “human doing” while you transform. It’s important to enjoy who we are. Right now. As is. I have found that many of us have trouble creating neutral or positive language about things we’re self-conscious of.
I struggle also! I promise you, there is space for you to be happy with who you are, as you are. It seems impossible, but that is just fear and doubt playing games with you. I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned on my own self-love journey. Here’s the truth about body image.
1. You don’t have to work on it. You have to work on how you feel about it. I had to stop telling myself that what I saw in the mirror was flawed. I had to buy clothes that fit. I had to stop getting on the scale so much. I was never going to be happy with my body being a defeatist. Slowly, I started to realize that when I wasn’t thinking about it, I wasn’t self-conscious. When I wasn’t feeling self-conscious, I realized that other people of all different sizes were out here living their best life all around me! I started to realize I was encouraged by those people. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be around people like them. Surround yourself with supportive people and challenge those whose comments make you uncomfortable. This is the art of healthy boundaries.
2. Body neutral, rather than body positive, is a good first start. You don’t have to suddenly believe yourself to be gorgeous (I mean, if you can, please by all means DO THAT). But for a person who is struggling to accept themselves, it’s hard to praise their body. Start small. Understand that your body has helped you. Acknowledge its tenacity, what it has survived, what it has sustained and healed from. Focus on what it allows you to do, instead of how it holds you back, to develop an appreciation for the body you have. Go to the gym (if you can), drink more water, establish healthier habits but not all at one time! Little by little is important. Remember, our brain likes patterns and it’s not going to be happy with you if you wake up and decide to change everything all at once. That “all or nothing,” black and white thinking is often not sustainable. Instead, focus on healthier habits for mind, body AND spirit, rather than focusing on just transforming your shell.
3. Unrealistic expectations don’t help. We all know that beauty standards are VERY flawed. Just think about what filters do. Now imagine the capability of those filters in the hands of less-than-honorable publications. You get it. What we’re seeing isn’t always accurate! As a musician, staying healthy and able to perform is important. However, I love my rock community for also being gritty, grimy and real. I like to wear loud makeup when I perform. But when it smudges or melts off my sweaty face on stage, it doesn’t matter! In the rock world, I don’t need anything to be perfect. It just needs to be honest. And I love that.
Here’s the downside: As a musician, your body is constantly on camera. Most of the video and photos are available to the public and the internet trolls abound! The way that bodies are hyper-sexualized and treated as display items is part of the problem. It can foster a belief that our bodies must be desirable to others and therefore, meet the standards of others at all times. This idea is so harmful! Love. Self. FIRST. That inner child must be protected at all costs! Because the truth is, you are worthy as you are. The more you believe it yourself, the more the hateful comments of the world won’t bother you. Just try to be the best you, whatever that looks like. Believe me, people will keep drinking that hater-ade no matter what you do. So, you might as well just focus on being the baddie you are, babe.
10 Steps to Positive Body Image:
Body Positivity and Body Neutrality:
Worldwide Body Image Stats:
Our thanks to Eva Under Fire’s Eva Marie for her series of Loudwire columns for Mental Health Awareness Month. The band’s song “Unstoppable” from their ‘Love, Drugs & Misery’ album is available now and you can pick it up and find the group’s touring information via their website.
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