“Body image is quite independent of physical appearance. Someone with high self-esteem tends to view her body favourably, regardless of how she actually looks.
The weak connection between body image and physical appearance means that changing your looks won’t guarantee a lasting improvement in self-esteem…you need to get past your appearance and focus on your other personal strengths as well.”
– Rita Freedman, “Bodylove”.
It may come as a surprise that body image really has nothing to do with how you look.
When someone struggles with poor body image, we might say “it’s such a shame – if only they could learn to like their looks”.
In reality, it’s “if only they could learn to like themselves”.
If we want to feel better about ourselves, dreaming about having the perfect body and fantasizing about “fixing” our appearance is, essentially, looking the wrong way.
It’s looking outward, not inward.
A dysfunctional relationship with food is symptomatic of a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves. The latter can’t be improved by looking in the mirror. It can’t be solved with weight loss. It can’t be healed by the approval and admiration of others.
Self-esteem is our relationship with ourselves, no one else.
That’s why it’s crucial we give ourselves a break and get to know ourselves better because if you can come to know and appreciate your qualities and strengths, you can come to know and appreciate your body.
It’s simple: hate yourself, hate your body. Like yourself, like your body.
If we think “I’ll like myself when I’m thin enough” we’re entirely missing the point. For how many years now have we been missing the point?
It’s time we started getting it. I mean really getting it.
We just need to stop looking the wrong way.
Freedman, R (1988), Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks – and Ourselves. London: Grafton Books.