This morning as I was journaling and carrying through my morning routine, a small thought popped in my head about the scenes I expose myself (consciously) to every day. I’ve come to realize we pick up the undertones and messages in the images we see and take those, whether we like it or not, into our personal thought process. I am finding that this is particularly true of images of bodies, and the effect these bodies can have on my own body image. I spend a decent amount of time on Instagram, reading blogs, and Facebook, and I’ve been pretty aware of cleansing these spaces to reflect images that don’t trigger out of control thoughts on body image.
At the beginning of summer, I started to follow a lot of models and people on Instagram who were at least my body-size or bigger. Before making a conscious effort to do this, my entire feed was full of women the same body size–which is one quite different from my own. I heard Kate Dalebout claim in one of her blog posts or podcasts that the only way to help body image is through exposure therapy. By this, she meant that if you are only looking at images of people smaller than you, you are never going to be able to feel happy in the body you are in. If instead you are able to find the beauty in people that are your size, or larger, and of various body types, then you are more likely to be able to see yourself also as beautiful.
Despite having spent most of this past summer in the backcountry, and away from social media, I still have felt a tremendous boost from my effort of personal exposure therapy. However, like everyone else I’m still exposed to random ads and images in every day life that I don’t choose to see, and which also seeps into my subconscious.
While I do see a fierce movement rising up against the mainstream norms, and challenging against things like photoshopping (yay aerie!), there are still things you can do in your personal life to improve your own sense of self. These things are as simple as cleaning out your social media from any people or posts that put down body-sizes, or make you feel bad about your own. Then, take things a bit further and start to add images of people with bodies that least your size or larger. Pick a variety of body-sizes, and allow yourself to see the beauty in each one.
It seems like a simple thing to do, however over time I have found this has had a tremendous effect on my own sense of self.
If you would like an idea of people to follow on Instagram, check out: