There is nothing like looking at yourself butt naked in front of a full length mirror. You start picking things apart immediately. Your legs are lumpy. You’re saggy in strange places. Hair has left some places and relocated in other places. It’s like the scene in Mean Girls when the 4 main characters are sitting in front of the mirror scrutinizing every little thing about themselves, “God. My hips are huge! Oh please. I hate my calves. At least you guys can wear halters. I’ve got man shoulders. My hairline is so weird. My pores are huge. My nail beds suck.” And if we’re honest, we scrutinize ourselves in similar ways. In a culture saturated with images telling us how we are supposed to look, no wonder we suffer from negative body images—men and women both.
While there is no magic potion for a flawless figure, there are things we can do to help improve the way we see ourselves.
- What are your triggers? Is it looking in mirrors? Wearing clothes that grab you in your soft spots? Eating in front of people? Looking at the magazine covers in line at the grocery? Whatever it might be, figure it out, and do your best not to engage in the activities that make you feel worse about your body image.
- Do something! Get up an exercise. A better body isn’t going to come from sitting around and playing on Facebook or playing on your Xbox. It doesn’t matter how fast you run or how much you can lift, all that matters is that you are moving.
- Pay attention to what you eat. Cheeseburgers do taste really good, especially when paired with some greasy fries, but usually after I eat that I need to go home and put sweatpants on, and I’m also pretty sure I can see where it all ends up. It’s okay to eat like that sometimes, but it doesn’t do your body good to make that a regular habit.
These are pretty simple things anyone can do to help improve their body image, but if you find that the problem may be more than these suggestions, you may want to look into getting individual help.
Rejection is real. When it happens most often “What is wrong with me?” passes through your mind at one point or another. It may feel like that is the only thing you can think about—like a broken record, it plays over and over again in your head. You want answers you may never get. And there you are, abandoned by someone who you thought loved you. Next move, how do you even begin to get yourself back in the game when you believe so deep down that you will be rejected again?
Take your time: There is no race to start dating again. You need to take your time to heal and become whole. You’ve lost a best friend who essentially told you “Thanks but no thanks.” People we love and who are supposed to love us aren’t supposed to do that, but they do. From this you can learn how strong you are, even though you feel weak. But take the time to heal, without healing, you can’t give back to someone else when you do feel ready.
Vulnerability is scary. That’s what made the rejection hurt so badly because you were able to drop walls with that person you weren’t able to with others. It was real. But in doing that you learned what it was like to admit your faults, weaknesses, and fear of judgment, which takes courage. Through those things, you were able to experience what a relationship is about and without those, you can’t love someone. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with the next man. In those moments is where you find the real connections that have value.
Enjoy dating for what it is, an opportunity to spend some time with a new person with no strings attached. It may go somewhere, it may not, but no need to put pressure on yourself for it to go to the next level. Use it as a chance to begin to open those doors again. It will be a little uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and you may find you even enjoy it.
If you don’t risk, then you have no chance is being hurt, but you also lose the opportunity to find something worth keeping.