Body Image: Shifting Our Focus from Form to Function

As spring warms the air, many of us will begin thinking about summer plans, summer adventures, and — summer clothes. For those who struggle with negative body image, this spring may be an especially difficult time. Not only are we beginning to reengage with one another more in person but, we are also doing so in a time when weight gain and a lack of access/ability to exercise have been a frustrating dynamic of the pandemic. It has simply been far more challenging to care for ourselves in the way we normally would, leading us to a place where we may be entering this spring more body-conscious than usual.

Due to these layered issues, today we are going to talk about some ways to get some perspective, and some freedom, around struggles with negative body image.

Two Ways to Reframe & Refocus Our Thoughts on Body Image

  1. You are not your weight. Remember, there are a lot of things that go into the number that shows up on that scale. Even if it is higher than usual, that is also the number that reflects a human who has made it through an unbelievably stressful year. If you want the number to be lower, that’s fine, there are healthy ways to pursue that. But, don’t hate the person on the scale. She’s been through a lot and did the best she could.
  1. Your body is not just its form, it is its function. There is great relief and self-compassion that can come from valuing your body for what it does (function), rather than how it looks (form). Rather than saying, “I don’t like the size of my legs” we can celebrate the walk they allowed you to take. Instead of saying, “My nose is too big” we can offer gratitude for the smells it can take in after a pandemic that took that ability from far too many. Rather than the self-consciousness that can come from a sleeveless shirt, “embrace” the feeling of being able to hug some people again.

I know these may sound like surface/insufficient ways to approach something as emotionally condemning as negative body image, but it does work. And, the reason it works is that the shift from form to function is a shift from judgment to GRATITUDE. And, gratitude can not only make us feel better, it can literally change the pathways in our brains to think and experience the world differently.

Remember, you weren’t born disliking your body or parts of your body. You learned that. And, if you learned it one way, you can also unlearn it and experience your body a different way. Whoever you are today, after a year in a brutal pandemic, is just as valuable as you were last year. Fifteen pounds ago. When your body was 16, and when it turns 60. This year, may we learn to appreciate our bodies from a position of gratitude. Gratitude to be here, to have breath in our lungs, to be surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes who we haven’t seen in so long.

Additional Resources:

March 23, 2021. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo

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