On how you can have a bad body image day while still having a positive body image overall.
Bad body image days. We all have them.
The days when nothing seems to fit right. Not even your favorite sweatpants, the ones you wear so often the hems are coming undone and the elastic is no longer springy. The days where you walk around doing your work, going to the store, checking your email feeling blah. Mirrors are the enemy.
What happened? Just yesterday you felt fine. But now? Now you feel like an overinflated circus balloon only able fit into palooza pants (maybe).
Maybe you’ve been working on overcoming body dissatisfaction and cultivating a positive body image. You know about Health at Every Size; you even use the bopo hashtag. Things seem to be going pretty well. But then you have a day like the one described above. All that hard work, erased in a single day? It’s enough to make a person throw out any and all non-baggy-sweatshirt type clothing.
But most likely, your progress isn’t ruined. Progress is rarely linear. A million and two factors can play into your body image on any given day. Off-days? They happen and beating yourself up about them (why can’t I just love myself?!?) will probably only make it harder to keep spiraling up (thanks Rebecca Scritchfield for that imagery!).
All that to say: you can have a bad body image day but still have an overall positive body image. Case in point: a several days ago, I felt (and I use the following word because I am eloquent and well-spoken) blah. Like I hate how my clothes fit, I can’t get my hair to do anything, can I just stay in bed please blah. I felt constantly distracted with feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, something that by God’s grace is no longer an everyday occurrence. But I didn’t act on any of my bad body image thoughts. The next day? Perfectly normal. I didn’t think about my body, all my clothes still fit. I can’t remember if my hair cooperated, but even if it didn’t, I wasn’t bothered.
The important thing to draw from this is this: don’t act on bad body image thoughts on your bad body image days. Chances are, if you have an overall mostly positive (not perfect, just mostly positive) body image, you’ll be back to normal the next day. If you fall back into acting on your bad body image thoughts, it becomes easy to think the next day, when you’re back to normal, that your behaviors from the previous day are what made you feel better, rather than the fact that it was just an off-day. Of course, give yourself grace. But falling back into acting out on bad body image thoughts, whether it be by restricting, overexercising, or overeating can cause you to spiral down.
Maybe you’re not at this place yet, though. The opposite is also true: you can have what you think is a good body image day then your body image is mostly negative. But the “good days” are few and are between and you’re not even sure if they’re actually good days. When I had a mostly negative body image, my “good” body image days where the ones where I felt the thinnest, the fittest, the whatever-I-thought-I-needed-to-be-est. And that’s not actually good.
If that’s the place you’re in, keep moving forward! The hard work? It’s worth it. Remember that what you think of your body doesn’t define you.
And neither does any single day. You can have a bad body image day but have a positive body image overall. You can have a good body image day and still have work to do.
But honestly? We all have work to do. There’s not a solid destination, an ending point. We’re all works in progress. And we shouldn’t let one day–or even a plethora of days–keep us from continuing our journeys.
Linking up for Thinking Out Loud!