On Your Mind: Swimsuit season impact on self-image

on your mindSwimsuit season is really making me feel bad about my body, and I find myself intentionally skipping meals to try to lose weight. My older sister struggled with an eating disorder, and I definitely don’t want to put myself in that situation. But I also can’t afford a personal trainer and cutting out meals seems like the quickest way to lose the pounds. It’s not anorexia if I eat some of the time, right?

In my experience counseling young women and teens, I have yet to run into one who is not affected during swimsuit season. Your struggle is not uncommon in today’s society. It’s also really important that you’re recognizing your struggle and asking questions.

Given your family history, I understand your concern about developing an eating disorder. While skipping meals does not necessarily mean you have one, I would urge you to be very careful with the choices you’re making. There are many different ways a person can develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are a struggle for many young people, especially girls. Anorexia, in particular, is often described as an intense fear of gaining weight. Most people who struggle with an eating disorder have a distorted view of their body. Eating disorders can have irreversible mental and psychical consequences. An important way to avoid eating disorders is to develop a healthy self image.

“Self image” is the way each person views themselves. You can take charge and help sculpt your own self image or you can allow society to do it for you. Some helpful ways to build a positive and healthy self image are:

  1. Take time to care for your body
  2. Eat healthy
  3. Exercise
  4. Take time to do things you find fun
  5. Try to learn something new
  6. Give yourself compliments
  7. Make realistic goals
  8. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  9. Recognize your negative thoughts and change them

Start taking notice of your thoughts. Controlling your negative thoughts is the best way to make yourself feel happy. Negative thoughts directly affect our self esteem and self image.

Take note of the things you say to yourself each day. We want to eliminate the negative thoughts. The first step in the elimination process is recognizing when you do it. Then you can gradually start replacing the negative with more positive and true thoughts.

Try not to let society dictate to you what you believe. Develop your own values. The pressure you feel during swim suit season sounds like a value from society. How important is it to you to abide by society’s values?

If there are things you don’t like about your appearance, you have to realistically make small changes. It’s a gradual process and does not happen overnight. It’s unrealistic to think you can lose rapid weight and still give your body what it needs to function appropriately.

You do not need a physical trainer to start being healthier. Also, examine the relationship you have with food and how you came to feel the way you do. Remember that being healthy and making good food choices can be exhausting and overwhelming. It might be helpful to pair the hard work with lots of relaxation and time for yourself.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.