Appreciate your body, appreciate yourself

Loving who you are, inside and out, is very important. (Photo by Victoria Cockriell/SAIT)

Loving who you are, inside and out, is very important. (Photo by Victoria Cockriell/SAIT)

The body positive movement is one that encourages people to adopt a positive and forgiving body image, something that almost anyone can relate with.

Teri Lynn Olson, a registered psychologist who works for Student Development and Counselling Services at SAIT, explained that everyone has a body image and it’s part of what makes up our self-esteem.

“They tend to go hand in hand,” Olson said, explaining that many people who have a low self-esteem also have a negative body image.

What often leads people to have a negative body image, Olson said, is buying into messages from the media.

This idea is shared by Lily Barker, a Calgary resident and health enthusiast who believes that media representations of health aren’t realistic.

“There is a huge difference between the concept that the media has given us of what our bodies should look like and what we naturally are,” Barker said.

“Body positivity includes striving to find the balance between being your best, healthiest, most capable self and allowing yourself comfort in imperfection.”

Barker also believes that when people compare their bodies to others, it only makes matters worse.

“We compare, we judge, we shame, we diet, we do everything we can to feel happy about ourselves,” she said.

“I think everyone wants to experience feeling positive about our bodies, and often we’re able to pick and say we feel good about certain areas. But for one [that’s] good we’ll almost always be able to point out three that we’re unsatisfied with.” 

This is an idea that is shared by Olson, who said, “Everybody has something they would change.”

She went on to explain that for females, concerns usually regard weight or appearance, and for males, the concerns usually regard physical fitness or muscle mass.

“We tend not to appreciate our bodies and what they can do for us,” Olson said.

According to Olson, when we criticize our bodies, we are being disrespectful to ourselves, and when it comes to comparing our bodies with those of other people, we will always find someone who has physical qualities we think are better than ours.

Because of this, “comparing ourselves becomes irrelevant.”

Even the simplest of actions that most of us take for granted are gifts in her view.

“Focus on an appreciation for what your body can do,” Olson encouraged. “Your body allows you to do everything.”

For more information, or for someone to discuss body positivity or other issues with, the Student Development and Counselling Services office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and until 6 p.m. on Thursdays.

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