Penn, culinary school, crystal ceiling

Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts your week on a positive note!

Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!

If you have a negative body image, you probably avoid mirrors, or any surfaces that show your reflection. And if you do catch a glimpse, you might sigh with disappointment or grimace with disdain.

You might make a mean comment. Wow, my face is hideous. My thighs are disgusting. I wish I had another body. 

You might find something else you don’t like about your body or yourself.

For many of us looking in the mirror can be a painful experience. And it’s the cruel remarks that play like a record on repeat that only perpetuate our negative feelings.

But you might not know anything else. You might not even realize the disparaging dialogue that’s going through your head.

Today, I’d like to share a beautiful email I received from a reader. Jen shares what’s helping her when seeing her reflection:

“…I struggle with looking in the mirror, and judging myself. I do this constantly and automatically at this point. Thankfully, through the help of a wonderful therapist, I’ve been able to become more aware of my judgmental thoughts while I look at myself in the mirror and simultaneously wash my hands or brush my teeth.

I’m sure many people do this, where they take a moment while brushing their hair to stare into the mirror, and pass judgement. However, because this action has become so painful and crippling for me, my therapist recommended using a mantra while I look into the mirror, and also putting a sticker on the mirror that says, “I am beautiful.”

I have not gotten to the sticker yet, but I have started saying, “I am beautiful,” and though sometimes my belief in the statement wavers, the practice of changing my thoughts about myself in front of the mirror has made the experience a tiny bit more positive.

It’s not as scary and painful of a place anymore, and that all changed through a three-word mantra.”

When looking in the mirror, try the same mantra. Or if saying “I am beautiful” is too hard, maybe you can say something else that’s positive and feels true.

Maybe you can say “I have nice hair” or “I have strong arms.” Maybe you can thank your body for helping you take a walk or ride your bike or clean the house.

Maybe you can just say “I am OK.” Or maybe you can practice smiling at yourself every time you see your reflection.

Start with what feels comfortable and feasible. Remember that even though right now you might dislike — or even despise — your body, it won’t always be this way.

With practice, you’ll start seeing yourself in a more positive, gentler, kinder light. Just give yourself the opportunity to start.

P.S., Recently, Therese Borchard, one of my favorite writers and authors, interviewed me for her blog Sanity Break. I shared my thoughts on being kind to ourselves, particularly when doing so feels foreign and uncomfortable. Check out the interview here.