I gripped the handlebars of the Honda 250 Fourtrax as I flew over the gravel, through an opening in the fence and onto the neighbor’s property. Each time I escaped, I went deeper into the woods. No one would find me here. After climbing the hills, I reached the end of my little universe. I killed the engine and suddenly, the electricity that flew between the power lines filled the silence. I could see my little town from my perch. Foxtails grew in every direction and the anger I felt began to dim as the memory played on repeat. “My mom says you could be pretty if you lost weight.”
She was supposed to be my best friend but I knew I would never talk to her again. I didn’t think I was pretty or ugly. Before that day, I didn’t really think about myself in those terms but I knew I wasn’t like the other girls.
She was with me when I found out my grandfather died the year before. We played with dolls and she introduced me to Iranian food, copious amounts of candy and fort building too. Anna was beautiful and by most people’s standards just perfect in every way. She was fun and loved to play outside and she had long straight hair and a very symmetrical face. Anna was a skinny girl and that day, I found out I was her fat friend.
Losing Anna felt like losing a hand. I was 13 and everything was changing around me. I didn’t know how I would face 8th grade without her but I knew I couldn’t face it with her either. She was the first friend I lost due to differences in opinion about body image but she wouldn’t be the last.
About 4 years ago, I lost a friend because she made negative comments about my body. I’ve come to see these types of comments differently now but it still amazes me that women choose to hurt themselves and others with their negative views about body image.
These days, positive body image is pop culture – everyone seems to want to portray it, but few truly exercise it.
Positive mindsets require practice – even for those of us who can confidently say we are proud of who we are and how we look. I don’t wake up every day loving every single inch of my body – the truth is this: I love most of it, on most days. Sometimes, I see photos of myself that I don’t love, sometimes I think it would be nice if I could walk into any store and buy an outfit. Sometimes I feel sad about having to cut 10 inches off my hair because it has become damaged and there are some days I wish my teeth were whiter.
What I’ve come to learn as I have gotten older is that most people, even models, sometimes think about things they would like to change about their appearance. Attractiveness does not necessarily go hand in hand with positive self talk or healthy body image.
What we should be doing to help each other is to be more kind to ourselves, first. I’m a firm believer that healthy self image leads to healthy relationships.
Here is how we can all do that: Change the channel!
I’ve learned that altering my mindset and exercising self care by maintaining control over my thought process has proved to be more effective to my well being anything else ever has. Focusing on the things I like about myself, “changing the channel” ie changing the subject in my thinking patterns when negative unproductive thoughts appear is far more advantageous than spending time participating in negative self talk.
Changing the channel…In steps…
- Recognize negative thoughts
- Reframe the thoughts by recognizing the illogical nature of the thought
- Think about something else that you like about yourself
- Exercise gratitude
Are you struggling with negative self talk/ body image? I want to hear your story!
Special thanks to Sara Bee Bishop Photography for these amazing images!
Thank you to Unique Vintage for providing style for this post.