When you’re swimming in the sea of diet culture, it is really easy to take what you’re seeing for granted. Our brains say to themselves subconsciously, “Of course all the women I see everyday wear size 0! That makes perfect sense to me!”
Honestly, when we are swimming along like obedient little fishies doing our best to conform to the Western beauty ideal, it’s really easy not to give it a second thought. But the fact is that only 2% of the images we see on a regular basis are plus-size women (size 14+). I would love to know how many women we see on a regular basis are even size 8 or above. And we typically only see images of men who are slim and muscular.
When your brain sees the same images over and over again, it starts to assume that those images are normal, and other images become abnormal. This is why the number one tip I have for you to improve your body image is to start to expose yourself to a much wider set of images: not just tall, white, lean, hour-glass shape, size-0 models, but also medium-sized people, fat people, and super-fat people. People of absolutely all shapes and sizes, all ages, all colors and ethnicities, all sexual identities, all gender identities.
The more you take in images that represent yourself and people bigger than yourself, the easier it will be for you to accept your body. Promise.
What does this look like in reality? A few suggestions:
1) Reduce imagery of very small people and/or very muscular people from your media diet.
Think of all of the sources of images you have in your life. Do you read a lot of women’s magazines or men’s magazines? Think about whether these are helping or hurting your efforts to accept your body. Do you follow thinspiration posts on Instagram or follow outlets on Facebook that promote dieting or weight loss? Unfollow them. Think carefully about all of the places you take in these images and cull, cull, cull.
2) Add imagery of larger people into your media diet.
Where do you hang out online? How could you get more images of larger people in your social media feeds? Think Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. Whichever platform(s) you use most frequently, find people to follow that routinely post images of larger bodies. (Scroll down for specific resources.)
3) Set aside time each day to look at the new images.
Make sure you’re exposing yourself to the new images on a regular basis. The more you see, the more normalized larger bodies will become.
It’s about balance
I want to be clear: images of smaller people are absolutely fine. Plenty of people are naturally thin and their bodies are completely acceptable and lovable. The goal here is not to demonize small bodies; it is to make your image intake more balanced and representative of society as a whole.
For a while you may even want to swing towards unbalanced (only looking at images of people your size and larger). I found this very healing myself, but again, the idea is to develop an appreciation of all sizes and shapes of bodies, most of all yours.
Where to find imagery of larger people
- My epic list of awesome fat people on Instagram
- My body positive artist gallery
- Body positive photography projects:
I’m always open to other suggestions! Just contact me!