A Therapists Perspective: Cultivating Body Image

| Mandie Tracy, LCSW

Many of my clients have long histories of unhealthy and complicated relationships with their bodies. Many of them have memories of negative thoughts and beliefs forming in childhood and early adolescence. Their body image distress was, and is, not created in a vacuum. I am often reminding my clients that we are not born hating our bodies. That body hate is learned and reinforced throughout life. Through relationships, athletics, societal messages, media, and predisposed personality traits (we’ll talk about this more in a later blog), our relationship with our body develops, for better or worse. 

We live in a society that is constantly bombarding us with harmful messages. The adult population has already been saturated with this multi billion dollar industry. The target has now shifted and companies are everyday creating products to get kids hooked. The war on childhood obesity has been a main contributor to the increase in weight loss tactics aimed at children. Everywhere you turn are advertisements or wellness programs selling some “get thin quick scheme” (I am looking at you flat tummy lollipops) with celebrities and influencers being paid to endorse their products. 

With all of the influences we face, somewhere along the way trust in our bodies is lost. Our body becomes the villain. It becomes the vessel in which shame, guilt and disgust are projected on to. We eventually turn from the very thing that houses our incredibly unique spirit. We feel our lives would significantly change “if only” our bodies represented what culture and society have dictated as worthy. 

Daily I am amazed by my clients that choose to be vulnerable, allowing themselves to be open and process their body image experiences. I am privileged to work with incredible humans with so much courage in making a choice to do this incredibly difficult work of healing their relationship with food, their bodies and themselves. They sit in my office, allowing me a snapshot into their battles with their body and their hope for a future where they can accept every part of it. I hold a lot of hope for their healing and have been honored to witness incredible work and growth in many of them. 

If you are struggling with your relationship with food and/or your body, know that you are not alone. There is hope and it is never too late to reach out and seek support. 

Today's the day to make a change.