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Retraining Your Eyes to Accept Your Body

Iskra Lawrence - who looks lovely and clearly has great taste in co-models! (photo courtesy of Iskra Lawrence's Instagram account).
Iskra Lawrence – who looks lovely and clearly has great taste in co-models! (photo courtesy of Iskra Lawrence’s Instagram account).

These days, I spend increasingly less of my time focused on what I would call “recovery” matters.

In other words, I can go whole days, weeks even, without really thinking about the me that used to struggle SO hard with an eating disorder on a daily basis.

But there is one area that continues to require significant daily investments of my time and focus. That area is body acceptance.

I certainly wasn’t an overnight recovery success myself. By that I mean, I’ve never gotten to a place where, from that point forward, I simply stopped struggling with my eating issues.

Rather, recovery happened gradually, not even day by day but minute by minute, until there were fewer moments of significant struggle with increasing stretches of relative peace in between them.

Now I am working on body acceptance in the same way, minute by minute and day by day. Some days are harder than others, but the really tough days are fewer and farther between.

One particular tactic is really paying off. I call it “retraining my eyes to accept my body.”

The way I do this is simple. 

Whenever I happen to see a headline or a post or an article about a person that is actively engaged in loving their body, I stop and read it. I look at the pictures. I seek out more pictures and look at them as well.

As I do this, I listen to what comes up in my mind. Sometimes it really likes the shapes and sizes it is looking at. Other times, it argues with me about whether it thinks it is okay to accept this body shape and size. Either way, I let it have its say, but eventually, as I keep looking, keep feeding my eyes positive pictures of real bodies with real curves and real un-touched, non-airbrushed skin, it runs out of things to say and just starts to look with me at the pictures.

Once this occurs, I stop looking. I don’t go seek out a mirror or anything, but the next time I do look at myself in the mirror, I usually notice I like the reflection I see there better as well.

It is really quite a magical moment when this happens, and I have discovered a very clear link between looking at pictures of other real bodies and looking at the reflection of my own real body.

Here is an example if you’d like to try it. You can substitute any other person for the one I mention here – just whomever you find inspiring is fine. 🙂

  • A couple months back, I was on Facebook and saw a headline about how model Iskra Lawrence was attacked by body-shapers on her Instagram account.
  • She fought back. She posted pictures and even a video and some very strong, positive language asserting her right to accept her body – her home, as she called it (I LOVED that!)
  • So I clicked on the headline and read the post. Then I followed a link to Iskra’s own website, Runway Riot, and continued to read more. I looked at more pictures of Iskra there and elsewhere online.
  • Then I looked at some pictures of some other models who are participated with Iskra in the Aerie Real campaign, a UK campaign that uses only real non-airbrushed bodies in their ads.
  • After awhile, I noticed my mind had become quiet and was just looking at the images with me, so I closed down my browser window and went to go unload my laundry. As I was folding and stashing and hanging, I caught a glimpse of my body in the mirror. I stopped to look.
  • I noticed I felt good about the curves I saw. I felt proud. I felt at home.
  • It was a lovely feeling.

This is not to say this technique will work for everyone, but all I can say is that it sure feels GOOD to look at pictures of other bodies and not have to feel the frustration that none of them look anything like me (i.e., no matter how much I learn about photoshopping, my mind never seems to remember any of it when looking at airbrushed models in magazines).

I like looking out at the world around me and seeing bits and pieces of myself reflected back – soul, heart, mind and body.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you had your own struggles to just accept your body as your home and be able to enjoy living there? What has helped you move past those struggles and be able to enjoy the home you live in?

Retraining Your Eyes to Accept Your Body

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). Retraining Your Eyes to Accept Your Body. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2016
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