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The Meaning Of Balance For Body Image

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In April, I interviewed  a researcher about attaining a work-life balance. Her first words to me were: There’s no such thing as balance.

And trying to reach a so-called balance is akin to reaching perfection. In other words, it’s not going to happen, and we’re going to drive ourselves insane along the way.

(Here’s the piece if you’re interested.)

Both Christie and Anna wrote thought-provoking posts also questioning the idea of balance. (By the way, I loved Ashley’s post on balance, too.)

But when people say balance, I think what they typically mean is a happy medium or not residing on either side of the spectrum. At least that’s the way I view balance.

With body image, I see a deeply negative body image at one end of the spectrum – where you hate your body, ignore its signals and rarely look after it – and an unrealistically positive body image at the other – where you shoo away every negative, yucky thought, deny your feelings and become the Pollyanna of body positivity.

So balance isn’t some ideal location, some perfect pedestal we must reach. It’s just the opposite. It’s hanging out at a comfortable place somewhere between the above extremes.

Having a good, sturdy foundation for a positive body image is important. But our body image isn’t stagnant, after all. It’s a day-to-day process. It’s a work in progress. So balance is flexible.

It’s a place where you aren’t cursing your hips regularly or denying or condemning any negative thought that swirls in your brain.

I’ve talked before about how I assumed that a positive body image meant positivity all. the. time. As a body image blogger, I assumed that I couldn’t have a down day ever again.

And if I did, I was a bad body image blogger. An impostor who wasn’t practicing what I preached.

As I wrote in a recent post:

I used to think that I was a no-good body image blogger if my body image wasn’t at its positivity peak every day. I felt terrible that I still had bouts of self-doubt and insecurity. I felt like a fake, who was doling out body-positive platitudes while I grumbled about my own body.

But if we brush body image issues aside, how can we work to solve them, to take action and truly make things better?

Once we can identify what’s wrong, we can move forward.

And if we notice too many days of feeling insecure and ignoring our self-care, then we work to bring ourselves back. We reassess and figure out what’s going on.

In the same vein, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel at all negative, or if we hold these random high standards for ourselves (e.g., I can never have a down day again; I must be happy and perky most of the time), we also suffer. Nothing gets solved, and we stay in limbo.

So balance to me also means being honest with yourself, attending to what’s going on inside and not seeking perfection.

This post was written in response to this month’s Self-Discovery Word by Word Series, which is being hosted by Myrite at Tasty Life. See here on how to participate.

What does balance mean to you? What does it mean when it comes to your body image?


By the way, the WINNER of a free copy of Kim Brittingham’s Read My Hips is T! I’ll email you shortly to get your address. Thanks so much to everyone who commented!

P.S., Check out Sui’s free e-book on what loving yourself really means. I was honored to be one of 10 women to talk about my definition of self-love.

The Meaning Of Balance For Body Image

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). The Meaning Of Balance For Body Image. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2018, from


Last updated: 24 Aug 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Aug 2011
Published on All rights reserved.