David Hamilton shows you how to love your body, just as it is
Many people feel some degree of dissatisfaction regarding their body image: their shape, size, weight, hair, face and so on. Studies show that nearly 90% of women in the UK have dieted, for example. Where does the discontent come from? Is it because our bodies are somehow flawed? No! It’s because how we feel about our bodies is conditioned by images we see online, on TV and in print. We ‘learn’ that there is such a thing as a ‘perfect’ body or the ‘right’ body or the ‘ideal’ weight, without ever realising that these are just beliefs based on media trends that change through time.
According to the book Body Image by Sarah Grogan, professor of psychology, health and wellbeing at Manchester Metropolitan University, the ideal chest, waist and hips measurements of the average Miss America throughout the 1920s were 32-25-35. By the 40s, they were 35-25-35, and then 36-2336 in the 60s. Had the female shape changed by biological evolution during those years? Of course not. All that changed was the opinion of judges regarding what was ‘perfect’, and their opinion was conditioned by the birth of Hollywood movies and the rise in print advertising, where the public was shown what ‘perfect’ seemed to be. The bottom line is this: There is nothing wrong with any part of your body. And it’s your opinion that counts because that affects how you feel about yourself. The good news is we can hack our feelings about our bodies by simply recognising this. Thinking in this way helps direct your mind to focus on the present, thus helping you feel grounded, as well as putting your body in an optimum posture. It also helps heighten your concentration. Try this exercise.
NOW TRY SOMETHING NEW
How to hack your soul-esteem
1 Write a few paragraphs about how comparing your body to others affects how you feel; how it impacts on your happiness, health or feelings of self-worth. Write down how your opinions about what is ‘beautiful’ or ‘ideal’ have been conditioned by advertising. This is a very important exercise in helping you to feel how your happiness is affected by comparisons.
2 Write down how your life could be different if you stopped comparing yourself to others and instead accepted yourself as you are. For example, if comparisons make you feel insecure, how do you think you’d feel if you stopped making them? How would it affect your happiness, relationships or self-esteem?
3 Make a decision to be your unique self. Try it for a day. Wear what you want to wear. Do your hair the way you want to do it. Speak your mind in the way you want to speak it. If you find yourself making a negative comparison, stop, take a breath, and affirm, “I am choosing to appreciate myself just as I am.”
Do these things as a living statement that you are ‘good enough’, just as you are.
David Hamilton is a Scottish author and public speaker on how the mind influences the body. Go to drdavidhamilton.com