Merriam-Webster's dictionary describes self-image as: the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance.
When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Is your self-talk positive or negative?
If your answer is negative, you are not alone. Millions of women across the world are under pressure to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty. Advertising, the most powerful arm of the mass media, is all around us. We are constantly bombarded with ads and images of perfect models gracing the pages of fashion magazines and social media, presenting us with ideals that are difficult to achieve and maintain.
Magazine editors know that to make a sale they need to play on our doubts or create new ones, instilling in us the messages that we have 'problems' that need fixing. Every part of the female body is picked apart and scrutinized. We are told outright what we need to buy so we can be fixed.
The media eye, in its many different forms objectifies us, pointing out our numerous 'flaws' and imparting the message that all women need to lose weight, as well as letting us know that the natural aging process is a disastrous fate for women. Youth and thinness are increasingly promoted and aging is frowned upon.
No wonder most women struggle with self-confidence!
So how can you rise above and appreciate the body you have been blessed with? How can you bolster your body image and repair your self-esteem?
1. Let go of perfectionism: Perfectionism is a myth. It doesn't exist in the real world, and demanding it of yourself is self-defeating and an unnecessary waste of time. Even the models you see in magazines have their images photo-shopped. So stop rebuking yourself.
2. Stop criticizing yourself: That voice inside you telling you that you're not good enough is a liar. Just because we have a cultural obsession with thinness and perfection doesn't make it right. If you failed to do something or to follow thru on a goal, rather than saying to yourself "I'm such a failure" simply change it to "I didn't do that one little thing quite right, but I do most things right."
3. List your assets, talents and accomplishments: What are you good at? Capitalize on those things. Focus on your positive traits, on things that you do well. Make a list of all that is unique about you, including all your talents and accomplishments, big and small. List them all and review the list often. Add to your list daily.
4. Stop obsessing about your weight: Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth so stop obsessing about it. Every body is different as it regulates weight around a certain set point that may be impossible to change. The best approach is to adopt healthy eating practices and regular physical activity. The good news is you can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk.
5. Dress for success: Work with the body you have. You have a choice on what to express and what to hide, what to display and what to mask. Make changes to your wardrobe by finding styles, colors and textures that enhance your natural assets and minimize and downplay areas you're not as comfortable with. The right style can affect how you view your body. Embrace those curves and wear clothes that work with your curves instead of against them. (Read more on this subject in my upcoming book: Your Body, Your Style: Simple tips on dressing to flatter your body type)
6. Surround yourself with positive people: Include pleasant and stimulating interaction with those who support you. Maintain nourishing relationships with family and friends who encourage positive self-talk, praise and uplift each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network and helps lift your spirits and boosts your self-worth.
7. Keep a gratitude journal: We tend to take things in our everyday lives for granted. It can be humbling to realize the abundance of riches we already have. Appreciate your body's functional nature. Thank your legs for carrying you around, your arms for being able to embrace someone, your eyes that allow you to read this. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, health, work and the wonder of nature all around you. Contemplate and elevate your thoughts to focus on things to be grateful for. Write down five things you are grateful for in your journal every day. This can bring you deep peace and serenity.
"I am not this hair, I am not this skin.
I am the soul, that lives within."
© Rani St. Pucchi, 2016
Look for Rani St. Pucchi's imminent release of her book: Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type
For more information on Rani please visit www.ranistpucchi.com