Anyone that saw the movie poster for Star Wars: Episode One could have been easily mislead into thinking this would be an epic movie. The image of Darth Vader’s shadow lurking beside the figure of innocent Anakin Skywalker is thought-provoking and thrilling!
Yet, to the disappointment of fans everywhere, Star Wars: Episode One was arguably the biggest movie let-down of the century. Today, just name-dropping “Jar Jar Binks” is enough to make people cringe.
Thank goodness we don’t make movie choices based on their poster! Let’s be honest—these days, who even looks at movie posters anyway?
Think of your body like a poster for a movie. It’s what people see on the outside—your relative size, how you care for your hygiene, what you wear. Those that watched “Mean Girls” know that outside appearance is not an accurate reflection of inner character. In no way does your body reflect what is inside you (your character, intelligence, faith, bravery, generosity).
John Green, in his book “Paper Towns”, said it best: “That always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people would want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.”
Therefore, to the women, men, young girls, and teen boys that hate their body—I ask—how is that body-hating working for you? Has it ever once motivated you? Made you feel warm and fuzzy? Filled you up with confidence?
If you’re like most, the answer to all of the above is “No. It has not helped one bit.”
This article is the first in a series, meant to help you take practical steps toward body acceptance. Below, you will find three TIPS for re-defining what’s important in self-evaluation.
TIP #1: If you catch yourself being critical of your body, try out one (or more) of these talk back skills.
- Ask—“Is this thought helpful?” If not, let it go on its way. Remember “a thought is just a thought.”
- Broaden the scope of your thoughts to yourself as a whole person. Think about the content of your character (and no, your ability to follow a diet is not a reflection on your character; focus someplace else). For example, “Have I shown someone kindness today?”
- Thank your body for the gifts it provides– All 5 senses, mobility, warm hugs, coordination… you get the idea.
TIP #2: Just as people could care less about a movie’s poster, many people could honestly care less about your appearance. Yes, there are some very judgmental people out there (in fact, if you struggle with negative self-image, there may have once been a harsh critic in your inner circle). Until someone has verbalized their judgment, the negative view you perceive others having may be more of a reflection of your own inner judgments–your own imaginary audience of critics. Unless you are Sookie Stackhouse (or some other registered telepath), you can’t read minds. Stop assuming you can. In fact, if there’s any uncertainty, how would it hurt to make a positive assumption? Even better, ask yourself why you value others’ perception at the risk of your own happiness?
TIP #3: Act as if you like your movie poster, even if you don’t (yet). The “fake it ‘till you make it” mantra can really work. Fake confidence in your body by eliminating the self-imposed limits you’ve set (i.e. don’t wait to start dating/dancing/swimming/etc. until you are a certain size). If you must, consider it an experiment, where you test to see if you can tolerate the new activity despite feeling slightly embarrassed. What’s important is that you live a meaningful life, not that you look good doing it.
And… What’s also important is that the next Star Wars movies match the high caliber of their movie posters. (Right?)
Professional counseling can help you on your journey toward body acceptance. If you’ve been on the path toward body hatred for years, it will indeed be a journey, not an on/off switch. Patience is a prerequisite part of the healing process. The good-humored therapists at Star Meadow Counseling are equipped to help with body image, outpatient eating disorder struggles, and self-esteem development.