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by Nia Patterson

Mar 14, 2024

Navigating Body Image Struggles: 3 Tips for 2SLGBTQIA+ People

Hello Folx! I’m giving you 3 tips to navigate body image struggles. And while I KNOW you are tired of lists as blog posts I’m doing it anyways because these tips (among others) literally saved my recovery and saved my life.

3 Tips for 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Navigating Body Image Struggles

First off, I know you know this by now if you live in today’s society on Beyonce’s internet. Self Love, Body Image, and Body Love in today’s world as a Queer, fat, marginalized human is hard. I mean, HARD. Clothes don’t often fit right, if at all. Influencers are still peddling “teas” that make you crap your pants. And why do almost all chairs have arms on them that dig into our hips???

We’ve heard the messages out loud and in our heads—”too fat, too loud, too queer.”

And if you haven’t tried to shrink yourself at some point…then you’re one of the few that’s made it out without the emotional attachment to your body and how it looks.

But I’m going to start out this post today with an important reminder. No matter what you’ve heard and people have made to you think…YOUR body is not the problem. YOU aren’t even the problem. Society is and how it has taught us we need to take up less space. So I’m giving you 3 bold tips to navigate the body image struggles you may currently be facing in the dumpster fire world of diet culture.

Body Image Tip 1: Use the Mirror for a Positive Purpose, Not to Beat Yourself Down

Mirrors can really be hit or miss for some of us. They can be uplifting and supportive or they can be demanding and critical. It really depends on how they show up for your in your own life. For me over the years it’s been on both ends of the spectrum. Let’s start with how they can show up positively.

If you feel like having a mirror in your space is uplifting and supportive then double down on it if you can. Give yourself and maybe your social media following a fashion show of your favorite outfits, cats, and more! Taking photos in the mirror that are neutral or positive can only strengthen your positive outlook on the mirror. Also, a great way to up level those reflective vibes is to decorate your mirror with affirmations and inspiring words by using paint pens or post-its. Make checking yourself out in the mirror every day a fun activity!

Now, if you feel like the mirror is more critical and demanding than positive and uplifting then my first suggestion is to just let it go. There are so many mirrors in our houses on average that if you get rid of the biggest one or the most unnecessary one you won’t be hurting anyone–but you will be helping yourself. And if that’s not an option, try covering it up with a cute tapestry or blanket! Make it a statement piece in the room.

Another approach to a critical mirror is the activity I walk my clients and readers through in my book, What’s the Story? by Nia Patterson. It’s called The Mirror Challenge. The idea is for a set amount of time (15 or 30 or so days) to make time and take pictures of yourself in that mirror. Whether you’re dressed up or naked, making space to take pictures of yourself and either share them or keep them for yourself–but either way, not hold negative judgements about the person in the photos, keep them neutral or positive. After that period of time see how you’re feeling toward your body and the mirror itself. Does it feel more supportive or less?

Body Image Tip 2: Ditch the Scale – NOW!

I feel like this is the most self-explanatory tip on this list. It’s not so much the fact that stepping on the scale with derail all the work you’ve been actively doing and the new life you’re creating but more that just it’s presence can bring derailment and a breakdown in commitment to better body image and love of self.

When a scale sits in the corner of a bathroom or even in the back of a closet we know subconsciously that it’s there. We also know it’s an inanimate object but for many of us it can feel like it is judging us or worse, cause us to judge ourselves more critically. We might find thoughts like, “I’ll just weigh myself really quick,” or “It won’t be that big of a deal if I step on it” affecting us when previously they wouldn’t bother us at all if the scale weren’t there.

As I write this it has been about 8 years since I have had a scale in my home and as a result I rarely if ever think about weighing myself. BUT I will also be very frank and say that even now when I am in spaces where there are scales (e.g. the doctor’s office, my grandmother’s home, the weird coffeeshop on campus) my brain does get those thoughts that I could weigh myself quickly and then ignore it. The thing is, it’s never just an “ignore it.” Most of the time it’s a ruminate over it or even a full blow spiral.

Alllllllll of this to say, my second tip is most definitely, in the pursuit of a happier and healthier relationship with your body and body image, get rid of the scale today. If you absolutely need to weigh your 50lb suitcase to travel on Southwest just get one of the hand scales for your bag…

Body Image Tip 3: Surround Yourself With People Who Want You To Be You

This is actually my #1 body image tip but I’m putting it in third place. It makes sense.

There are two types of people I talk about often. You can surround yourself with people who accept you for being you. Awesome. But what’s better? People who actively want you to be you.

The difference is the first group will accept you for who you are. This is important and not to be overshadowed. This may look like respecting your pronouns, not questioning who you’re dating, not making fun of what you’re eating, showing up at events you host, etc. These are all SUPER supportive things!

However, the people who WANT you to be you will go further in their pursuit of making you feel love, valued, and wanted. They won’t just respect your pronouns, they will make sure everyone else knows them too. They will actively ask questions about who you’re dating so that they’re informed on your partner’s pronouns, preferences, likes and dislikes. They will help ask for comfortable seating at restaurants to accommodate both your body and theirs.

These are the people who will keep going until the last mile to show up for you and support you how you deserve to be supported. They want you to know that you are loved and needed.

We don’t always have a choice of who we surround ourselves with. Sometimes we aren’t able to find anyone in either of these two groups to support us. But I always urge those working through their relationship to their bodies and self to do what they can to find and surround themselves with as many people in the second group as possible because they truly help us grow and flourish in our lives.

Here are three really great tips to start making real progress toward transforming your relationship with your body image and self, ditching diet culture, and living a happier life in the now.

1. Surround yourself with mirrors if it feels supportive.
2. Throw the scales and critical voices out the window.
3. Surround people that make you feel seen, heard, and wanted just as you are.
And most importantly, friend, remember that you and your body were never the problem.

Intersectionality, Wellness, Mental Health

by Nia Patterson

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