Can you imagine absolutely loving your body? Cherishing it for all that it is? If your answer is yes, great! If your answer is no, that is okay! An important step in shifting your body image is to practice body acceptance. Using this approach can feel more attainable, realistic, and empowering when going through eating disorder treatment – or just going through life in general. Pushing the shift from body-hate to body-love can feel like an overwhelming, seemingly impossible goal, and may leave patients feeling helpless or disempowered.
Don’t get me wrong – “Love Your Body” is a great message. Your body is part of who you are. Your body allows you to do so many wonderful things, takes you so many beautiful places, and provides you with a safe, warm, and hopefully comfortable home. At the same time, we live in a society constantly pushing for change – get longer, leaner legs! Slimmer, toned arms! Luscious lashes! Flatter stomach! Stronger, longer nails! … These messages are everywhere, and can make it quite difficult to love what you already have.
Body acceptance allows you to practice patience. Acceptance is the gray in a world of black and white.
Body acceptance means you appreciate where your body can take you, even if you aren’t crazy about how that transportation looks.
Body acceptance means you recognize and appreciate what your body can do for you.
Body acceptance means you may not love your body … and you don’t hate it, either.
Body acceptance means you may want to change aspects of your appearance, however, you don’t feel the need to go to extreme measures to do so.
Body acceptance means you treat your body with respect.
Just because you don’t start to love your body during treatment does not mean you have failed. Make your first step acceptance, and if love comes with time, so be it. You don’t need to love your body to start making the crucial changes of respecting your body through offering it nourishment, forgiveness, and acceptance.
About the author:
Erika Vargas, LMHC, is a clinician in the Adolescent Intensive Outpatient & Partial Hospitalization Programs at the WBC Braintree location. She is trained in the Maudsley Method/Family Based-Treatment and works with adolescents to decrease eating disorder behaviors with the support of their families.