How to Overcome Body Image Issues and Insecurities (It’s a Journey)
If you are struggling with self esteem or self doubt, here are some body image tips to help how can overcome your own body insecurities. Develop a positiving body image with these key phrases and quotes.
Hey y’all, Tiffany here, with some tips on how to overcome your body image insecurities.
I did something really, really hard this morning.
We had our family pictures done by Sara Welburn Photography a couple of yearsago, and when we just got the final photos, I didn’t know what to feel or think.
There are so many of them that I LOVE, like these:
But then there are some that make me wince. Not because they are bad pictures, but because of ME and my body insecurities that I need to overcome.
I Need to Overcome Body Insecurities
In case it’s not obvious to anyone else, I’m fat.
I once had a friend who lost a ton of weight with surgery, but she said she still felt like “a fat person in her head”. I’m the opposite – in my head, I’m a thin person. I’m the person I was in college and when I first got married.
Before prednisone (a steroid required to control my Crohn’s), before babies, and before a feeding tube that destroyed my metabolism.
Every time I see a picture of myself, I cringe. I’ve put on 70 lbs since I was first married.
You wouldn’t guess it by looking at me, but I walk 3-6 miles five days a week while pushing both kids in the stroller. I eat a fairly health diet (yes, I have some chocolate now and again).
I’m healthy, but I don’t look anything like the girl I was in this bridal photo:
Man, see that slender neck and tiny waist? And those arms?
Now I just see rolls and blubber and jiggling when I look at these family pictures.
My first reaction when I saw them was to just delete them, delete the email, and make the photographer delete them from her camera. I was embarrassed and ashamed, and I didn’t want anyone to see them.
But you know what? I’m sharing them anyway.
For my husband
Most of the time, I’m pretty confident with myself. I know that my worth has nothing to do with how much I weigh. I know that in many ways, my weight isn’t completely my fault. With my frequent Crohn’s flares coupled with pancreatitis necessitating a feeding tube, mixed with pregnancy and steroids, my poor metabolism just decided to give up.
(Trust me, I’ve talked with my doctors and tried many a diet, cleanse, etc. – so please don’t try to sell me anything in the comments!!)
For a while after having our first boy (and while I struggled with anteparum and postpartum depression), I couldn’t stand how I looked. Every time my Phillip touched me, I’d shrink away. I didn’t want him to feel fat rolls and be disgusted….even though the disgust was really all in my head.
What happened was Phillip would go to hug me, and I would cringe away. This started to hurt our relationship. No matter how many times I assured Phillip that it was me, not him, it was hard for him to believe it. (We’ve all heard that line before, haven’t we?)
Phillip is so good at loving me for me, and loving my body for whatever shape it’s in, or no matter what Crohn’s makes my body do – we’ve been through a lot in our marriage with my health issues.
But amazingly enough (to me), he spontaneously has said many times that he loves how I look now so much more than how I looked back then.
I was calling him a liar
So when I would envision him being revolted by my body, I was basically telling him I didn’t trust him and calling him a liar. That his opinion about me didn’t matter – when really, his opinion about me is the most important one, especially since we try to have a marriage based on scripture with Christ as the focus.
Making the conscious choice to start appreciating my body, no matter what shape it’s in, has made a tremendous difference in our relationship. Sharing these photos publicly on social media tells my husband that I love our family that has been created by my body.
For my daughter
One day, I came across this quote on Facebook:
What a mother says about her body becomes her daughter’s inner voice when she looks in the mirror.
That hit me hard. You see, I never, ever want my daughter to see herself the way that I see myself.
I don’t want her to look in the mirror and hear my own voice in her head criticizing her the way I criticize myself.
I want her to recognize that she is so much more than inches or pounds or complexion. As corny as it sounds,I really do believe that beauty truly is more than skin-deep.
If I talk negatively about my body, or I bemoan my weight gain, or I only look to find fault, then she’ll wonder what I say about her body. She’ll start to see herself through the lens of my insecurities.
So instead, I try to change my wording. Instead of saying, “I am so fat. Gross,” I try to say, “Man, I’m having an ‘I feel fat day’ – that’s no fun! But at least my hair looks great today!” Then it turns into a statement of feeling, not “fact.”
I want my daughter’s relationship with her body to be the healthiest it can be. So I am sharing these photos for her.
For my family
My journey with Crohn’s disease has literally led me to death’s doorstep. Multiple times.
I can’t remember how many times my husband has been told that he needs to start preparing to say goodbye. Or how many times my mom has had to fly in to help care for me, not knowing if it will be the last time she gets to see me on this earth.
At the risk of sounding fatalistic, there’s a very good chance that I may not live to my children’s adulthood. And every single one of us will one day no longer be on this earth.
If I shy away from pictures with my family because I’m ashamed of how I look, then I am depriving them of a blessing that they may need in the future.
After I’m gone, all they’ll have to remember my face and relive memories is the pictures that we have. If I’ve refused to be in any of them, what good will they be?
So I share these photos and strive to overcome my body insecurities. And I hang them on my wall to offer my family comfort and peace in the day that I’m no longer present to do that.
For my God
Have you ever been to a birthday party or baby shower where the gifts are opened in front of everyone? It’s my least-favorite part.
I’m constantly feeling worried that my gift won’t be as “cool” as everyone else’s. It seems like everyone is judging everyone else’s gifts, and mine doesn’t measure up.
And there’s nothing worse than seeing the look on the opener’s face if your gift isn’t something they wanted.
I think that’s how our Heavenly Father feels when we look in the mirror and saying something negative about our body. Our bodies are precious gifts from Him, and they have the potential to house His Spirit.
Yes, we can work hard to be fit, exercise, eat well, etc. But even if we don’t, it is the utmost sign of ingratitude and rudeness to look upon His gift with disgust and rejection, whether or not we like the way we look and feel.
I never want my God to doubt my gratitude for His amazing gift. In actuality, my body is an amazing creation of science, whether or not I’ve overcome my body insecurities! So I share these photos in my Christmas cards for Him, know that He is the Master Teacher and I have lessons to learn.
The ever-famous Miss Piggy once said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes it may be necessary to give the stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”
In this case, the person needing the black eye is myself!
So often, people tell me that I have a positive outlook for having the health issues I do. How I seem happy in spite of so many hospitalizations and surgeries. I always respond, “Happiness is a choice, and I’d much rather be sick and happy then sick and sad.”
I haven’t yet been able to apply that to my self image, but I’m working on it. And while I can’t do a ton to control how my body is right now (pregnancies, Crohn’s, and steroids have done their number), I would much rather be fat and happy than fat and miserable! I need to build my foundation of self-love on a rock, not the sand that washes away every time my weight and health change.
So I share these photos with friends and family on social media for myself, as a reminder that I want to be happy with my body, no matter what shape it’s in. I want to overcome my body insecurities for me!
How to overcome body insecurities
We all know that charity is the pure love of Christ – it’s the love that Jesus has for all of us. We are told that charity is the greater than even hope or faith. Moroni 7:46 says, “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing.”
This includes charity towards ourselves.
Do we truly love ourselves, our bodies, the way that Christ does?
Do we give ourself the same grace and love we would give a friend?
Can we love our broken bodies?
He loves our bodies so much that He died on the cross and was Resurrected so that we could one day regain our bodies and keep them for eternity.
How do we develop this love, then? Moroni tells us in verse 48, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;”
As silly as it sounds, prayer is the answer. When I began praying sincerely to have love for my body and to know how to care for it correctly, the Lord changed my heart, and my eyes.It’s still a work in progress, but the only reason I’m progressing at all is because of prayer.
It’s a journey
I know it sounds so simple, but it’s still so hard! As my minor breakdown over the above photos shows, I still have a long way to go.
More and more, I am realizing that how I feel about my body is a journey and it will take time to overcome my body insecurities.
I go up and down. I’ll go weeks, or even months, without worrying about how I look, but then something will happen that will set me back and make me feel insecure again (like stepping on the scale at the doctor or seeing a photo that isn’t as flattering as I see myself in my head).
Several years ago, my uncle (a doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncture) told me that I would always be sick for the rest of my life. However, with proper treatment, the bad days would become less extreme, and become farther apart from each other.
Having confidence in my body is the same way. For a while, I felt disgust every time I looked in the mirror. But slowly, that disgust became less intense. And I would go a day or two without even thinking about it.
Now, those feelings of insecurity and self-loathing come but rarely. When they do come (as they always will), they don’t overwhelm me. And, through prayer, I’m able to overcome them more quickly.
It’s a journey, but one that I can make progress on. And so can you.
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Thank you so much for this post! I too, my whole life have felt exactly this! Thank you for reminding me why I should love myself for me and not how I look!
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s just what I needed to hear. I have many insecurities about my body and weight.
My motto now a days is :
“ what you see is what you get “ and if you don’t like me for me, it’s your loss.
It doesn’t always help but most of the time it does help me accept myself!
Girl! Are you in my head. This is SO powerful. I know it must not have been difficult to put down on “paper” and hit that publish button but thank you so much for doing so! You are gorgeous! That photo of you laugh makes me so happy! But I know the feeling of seeing photos and cringing. The memes that say “I wish I was as fat as I was when I first thought I was fat” I can feel in my soul! I will definitely be including this in my body positive round up post (from the fb group
Must HAVE been difficult (Face Palm) or must not have been easy… You know what I meant, hopefully! <3
Haha I knew what you meant! 🙂
I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way! Thank you so much, I really appreciate your sweet words. And I hope that what I say can help your readers, too, so thank you for including me!
I can totally relate to this. After having my kids I can barely look in the mirror, I’m still on this journey to accepting my mom body, it’s a tough road.
It is! And it’s a journey. Even after understanding all this, I STILL have days that I have to remind myself of these things.
I’m so thankful that you shared this and are so honest about your feelings. I’ve felt this a lot as I’ve struggled with chronic inflammation in my body and feeling like no matter how I eat or exercise, nothing changes. I’ve been at 40% body fat and wondered, what is this body I’m living in?? I’m with you on how hard it feels to love your body when it’s just not the same as what it used to be. This is something I’m still struggling with but trying to give my insecurities over to God each day.
It is so much more difficult when you have physical issues and medication side effects that seem to literally alter your body chemistry.
Great poignant post!
I am obsessed with your honesty and your authentic take. Thank you. I feel very much like you. I am a thin person in my head too. Then when I see myself I am like who is that and how did I become her.
Thank you for sharing this lovely journey. The world would benefit from more of this kind of honesty, courage, and authenticity. You are a beautiful soul.
Thank you so much for your kind words!
Thank you for sharing. I love the openness. I have many securities too and often wonder about the effect of my inner voice in my children one day.
So often we find ourselves as adults saying the exact thing our parents used to say to us. Most of the time, that’s okay, but sometimes it’s not.
Thank you so much for addressing this subject so openly and honestly. I feel the same way sometimes, so I TOTALLY get it! Great post.
Self-image and self-esteem in the age of filtered social media and impossible media layouts is harder than ever before. As a middle-aged mom it is no longer possible to hide from reality. Accepting that people love us for us, that we are perfect the way we are, and we are warrior women who have made it this far. Health is way more important than a number on the scale, our wrinkles, or our imperfect lives. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, social media and the technology to easily photoshop images plays a HUGE role.
I struggle with body image. I went from weighing 95 lbs when i was i my teens to weighing 290 now 25 years later but i still remember how much energy i had without all the weight.
It’s almost more difficult when it comes on gradually. Also remember that you were much younger then, too! That makes a difference in energy level, no matter how fit you are! 🙂
Your story is my story. I love what you shared and I wish you every happiness in the world!!
Thank you, you as well!
That’s totally true don’t let anyone shame your body.
This is probably one of the best blog posts I’ve come across on this topic. I struggle with how much weight I have gained since getting married as well and many of the things you mentioned. The thing that hit hardest was about your daughter. I don’t have kids yet, but it made me think about the many young women who have this phobia of gaining weight due to an identity crisis because of what society says. This is a powerful blog! I will be sharing on my page. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you for your kind words! This week I decided to try a new diet that involves meal prepping. My daughter was asking questions about why I was eating differently than the rest of the family – I almost said, “Because I need to lose weight” but I realized that wasn’t quite the right answer. I stopped myself and phrased it differently in a way that it could be about me and my health, and not body image in general.