Body Acceptance: How to Accept a Body You Hate

How to Accept A Body You Hate

There is a big misconception about body acceptance: you don’t have to love, adore, or even like your body to accept it. However, you do need to learn how to appreciate it which will eventually pave the way for a more positive relationship with it. It’s essential to note that body appreciation and acceptance are not the same concept as body positivity. Here are a few definitions to be aware of.

Body Positivity:

Body positivity is a movement and mindset that advocates for the acceptance and celebration of all body types, irrespective of societal standards or ideals. It encourages individuals to embrace their bodies as they are and promotes self-love and confidence.

Body Neutrality:

Body neutrality is a concept that suggests that, instead of placing a strong emphasis on loving or hating our bodies, we strive for a more neutral and accepting perspective. The focus is shifted from appearance to what our bodies can do, emphasizing functionality over aesthetics.

Body Acceptance:

Body acceptance involves acknowledging and respecting one’s body, and embracing it for its unique qualities and capabilities. It goes beyond the binary of positivity or negativity, encouraging a more nuanced and compassionate relationship with one’s body.

For myself and many clients I work with, body neutrality and body acceptance feel more realistic than body positivity. Remember, however, you get to decide which approach is best for you.

Weight Loss Aspirations: A Balanced Perspective

If you’re navigating challenges with overeating or emotional eating, it’s natural to have goals related to weight loss. Wanting to make changes to your body is normal and losing weight isn’t inherently problematic.

Throughout your journey, societal narratives have instilled beliefs associating weight loss with attributes like health and beauty. On the other side, you have probably received messages that being in a heavier body is bad, unhealthy, and unattractive. That being said, it makes sense you want to lose weight! Appreciating and valuing your body does not take away this desire and that’s perfectly okay! I’m not advocating against weight loss aspirations or conversations. I am not judging people for wanting to be in a smaller body. After all, where better to discuss these feelings than in a supportive environment?

Here is what I cannot support:

  • Weight being the sole metric defining your health, as it doesn’t reflect behaviors.
  • Weight exclusively dictating your happiness. We know that people in smaller bodies are not always happy and that people in larger bodies can be happy.
  • Weight limiting your aspirations or defining your worth; you’re multifaceted and more than just a number.
  • Your weight overshadowing your other qualities because you have a wealth of experiences and attributes beyond appearance.

Finding Harmony: Two Steps Towards Body Acceptance

You might be wondering how to balance this desire to lose weight with body acceptance. Let’s delve into two actionable steps to help you accept the body you are in today.

Cultivate Gratitude for Your Body Daily

Place a reminder on your mirror or set a gentle alarm on your phone with the prompt, “What’s one thing your body has done for you today?” Answer this question each time you glance at your reflection. Maybe it’s the way your legs carry you through a challenging hike or how your arms embrace loved ones in tight hugs. When you catch yourself in a spiral of negative self-talk, pause and think about how your body allows you to function and experience joy.

Tune into Your Body’s Signals

Often, we become disconnected from our bodies, especially when navigating feelings of dislike or resentment towards them. Engaging in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or body scans, can help foster a deeper connection. Spend a few minutes each day tuning into your body’s signals—acknowledge areas of tension, notice feelings of hunger or fullness without judgment, and appreciate the sensations that make you uniquely you. Over time, these mindful moments can cultivate a more compassionate relationship with your body, emphasizing understanding over criticism.

Final Notes

Begin by recognizing the myriad of things your body makes it possible for you to do and express gratitude for these capabilities. This marks the start of body appreciation. After all, nurturing and caring for something you hate is challenging. And it’s also clear that perpetuating cycles of restriction and binging isn’t the path to genuine care for your body.

Looking for extra support in navigating body image challenges and an opportunity to find body acceptance with like-minded women? You are invited to join my FREE Facebook community Dumbells & Donuts: Food, Fitness & Body Image Support for Women.