Body image has always been a struggle for me. Even before my eating disorder, I would say awful things to myself about my body. I could never seem to find peace with the way I looked. I was never enough—tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough—for myself.
That hatred and discontent led me into my eating disorder where my body image was even worse. I thought I could fix the issues I had and become “perfect” (as if that existed). I fought and fought myself to be enough but nothing I did or “achieved” was enough. I could not fix flaws in myself that did not exist except in my head, though I did not know this at the time.
Through recovery I have come to understand that perfection does not exist and I am enough as I am. Even still I struggle with being kind towards myself and finding peace in my body. Automatic negative thoughts still linger in my head after many years of residency. Not to mention I am still growing accustomed to this new recovered body of mine and it is really, really hard.
I have heard my team members/providers say many times that body image is the last to go. That simply means that it is one of the last struggles in recovery from an eating disorder. I definitely believe it because after overcoming so much (behaviors, food fears, etc.), I still struggle with my body image.
But, it is getting better. Little by little, it is getting better. As with everything in recovery, I have been fighting to overcome my body image struggles and it is getting better.
Here are a few ways I have battling my body image struggles:
1. “Wear what’s comfortable.” – Dress yourself in clothes that fit comfortably. It sounds easy, but it can be hard. With a changing body in recovery, there are various clothes that may or may not fit. Choose something that feels good on your body. It will make a huge difference on how you feel about your body.
2. Avoid triggers. – If you still have triggering magazines around or you visit certain sites that make you hyper-focused on your body, stop. Make a decision that you are going to care for yourself instead. You probably know what triggers you to self-hate your body, so make the decision for recovery instead.
3. Stop the negative talk! – Avoid talking badly about yourself. It is really easy to go to those automatic negative thoughts you have about yourself and your body. Instead, try catching yourself and stopping.
4. Say something nice. – If you look good once day, give yourself a compliment. It is okay if it is about how good you look in your jeans or how stylish you are. Just a nice comment here or there is a start.
5. Challenge: Engage in positive talk! – This is truly a challenge because not everyone can say something positive about themselves. I know I have not always been able to find something. Definitely keep working towards loving yourself and finding those things that you like about you.
Body image is hard. I work on it daily. I know, however, like everything else in recovery, that I can overcome my struggles. It is not impossible to find love in myself and I know the more I engage in little feats of kindness and non-negative talk, the closer I will get to finally being able to say that I love the way I look and the body I am in. Recovery is always possible.