I lived most of my life feeling like my body was inadequate. As a young kid I felt awkward and thought I was too thin and too tall. Once my body started developing during my early teens, my breasts increased in size very quickly, and never really stopped growing through adulthood. I was quickly labeled “top heavy” and often made to feel like that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Eventually I developed a complex thinking that I had curves in all the wrong places and spent years obsessing about being thinner. It took a long time and a lot of work to finally learn to appreciate my body the way it was.
When the weight of my breasts started negatively. affecting my health I decided to research about breast reduction surgery. I was looking into potentially getting plastic surgery mainly for pain relief and although it would affect my appearance I went into it with knowing that my self esteem didn’t need to be fixed. I had learned to fully appreciate my body long before I ever considered plastic surgery, and here’s how you can too.
1- Realize that your mental health and emotional well-being are more important than your outer appearance
After struggling with depression symptoms for many years, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (with a seasonal pattern), a disorder that takes the lives of approximately twenty thousand people per year in the United States. Realizing the potential severity of my diagnosis, I started taking my treatment more seriously than ever, and learned that self care is a big part of recovery. Self care involves self love and self appreciation. Even at my thinnest or at my most fit, I was never completely happy with my body. For so long I was obsessed with what I thought my physical appearance should be at the cost of my mental health. What was the point of pursuing “the perfect body” if it meant overlooking a disorder that, if left untreated, could potentially take my life someday? Even if you don’t suffer from depression, make your mental health a priority. Are you overly critical of your own appearance in a way that negatively affects your emotional well-being? Pay attention to how you look at yourself in the mirror and how your thoughts are making you feel about your own body. When self-criticism is damaging to your self-esteem it’s called bullying.
2- Own your body: you are the one who gets to decide what’s beautiful
It wasn’t until I realized that I am the one who determines what I should look like, that I started to fully appreciate my own body. Although we are constantly bombarded with messages suggesting that our bodies need some type of improvement, you don’t actually have to conform to those standards. Set your own standards for yourself, and remember that you are in control of how you view yourself and your body.
3- Judge yourself and others less based on physical appearance
When you criticize people based on their appearance, chances are you’re criticizing a feature you have and don’t like or wouldn’t want to see on yourself. Remember that we are all humans and no one’s body is “perfect”. When you keep that in mind it becomes easier to let go of self-criticism and judge other people less for their “flaws” too.
4- Change your mindset about yourself without making any physical changes
You don’t have to change your body in order to change your mindset about it. Your opinions and judgements about your body image are based on standards that are ingrained in your mind. When you tweak those standards of beauty to include your own appearance, you can positively change your perception of yourself, without having to make any physical changes. That means, you can start liking your body and your appearance exactly as it is, without having to change any part of it.
5- Understand that surgery might not change how you feel about your body
This is a big one. Your perception of your body image lives in your mind. There are a lot of body image issues that no amount of plastic surgery can fix because your opinion of your own appearance is based on your belief of what your body should look like. That belief lives in your mind, not on your body. You may believe that your body has a ‘flaw’ that should be ‘fixed’ by plastic surgery. When you are used to finding ‘flaws’, criticizing and have a low opinion about your own body, chances are you may find something else to be unhappy about, even after getting plastic surgery. You can build a more positive body image by adjusting the belief that you have about what your body should look like. If instead of finding flaws on your body, you train yourself to practice appreciation, and instead find things that you like about it each day, you can learn to appreciate your body without having to go under the knife.
I am not against plastic surgery. Everyone is different and I believe people should do what they decide is best for them. Above all else I believe that it is possible to love and appreciate your body without feeling the need to change it, and understanding how to do that can save you from a potentially unnecessary surgical procedure.