Encouraging a Loving Body Image

My first experience getting a tattoo– I’ll admit– did not turn out like I had hoped. Interestingly enough, it did prompt some helpful reflection that led me to learn something about a healthy body image.

When my tattoo artist placed the outline of my tattoo on my upper back, they snapped a photo of it and then handed me the phone to view how it looked. Without thinking, I zoomed in on the image to scan all the intricate details of the tattoo. The artist snatched the image away from me and offered me a valuable lesson about works of art.

“Art is meant to be appreciated as a whole piece,” they said, “not for its individual pieces.

How does this relate to body image? Often, when people are viewing their bodies, they criticize physical attributes, such as their waistline, skin, legs, muscles, etc. We pick apart our bodies and, essentially, “zoom in” and focus on our perceived flaws. With enough criticizing thoughts occupying our mind, our beliefs about our body turn negative and become more painful. A healthy, comfortable, and confident self-image then seems out of reach.

We all want to love and appreciate our bodies inside and out. One way of encouraging a loving body is to remember to “zoom” your focus out.

How can you do this? Start by standing six feet away from a full-length mirror. Heck– toss the mirror out completely and appreciate your body for how it feels in the present moment.

When it comes to photos, refrain from zooming in on the pictures taken of you. In your everyday life, speak to and about your body as if you were speaking to a loved one. Let painful self-judgments go in one ear and out the other– we don’t have to indulge every thought our brain offers us.

If you are having trouble appreciating yourself, reach out to your support system for a reminder of your strengths. Appreciate yourself as a work of art. You are not meant to be seen as individual pieces; you are meant to be appreciated as the masterpiece you are.

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