Why You Should Try Exposure Therapy for Body Positivity

Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by the statement, “You should love your body.”

 

Mhm, that’s what I thought. 

Learning to love your body is something that every Instagram page, wellness blog, and YouTuber preaches. More often than not, it’s coming from the mouth of a white, attractive, young, and slender 20-something year old “influencer”. Of course, the rest of us normies are sitting back thinking, “Easy for you to say!” 

And there lies the problem. It’s easy for someone who fits the conventional idea of beauty to advocate self-love, but where does that leave everyone else? What about people who are plus-sized, non-white, transgender, etc.? Where is the advice on body love for them? 

While I do fit the conventional “beauty ideals”, I am no stranger to poor body image. In fact, my relationship with both my physical and emotional self became so detrimental that it manifested in actual disorders. But the best piece of advice I’d ever gotten when it came to improving my self image, was to practice exposure therapy. 

I know, it sounds scary, but hear me out.

Instead of turning away from mirrors, ducking out of photos, and hiding away my body, I started to expose myself to it. 

I would spend more time simply being underdressed or naked when alone. I began looking at my body more and allowed myself to really look at it. I wouldn’t let myself pick at things I didn’t like about my body, but I would practice a more curious gaze, viewing my body with a neutral and inquisitive gaze. 

By becoming more acquainted with my own body, getting “used” to my body and what it looks like, it became easier for me to accept it. Spending more time looking at my physical form without judgement, good or bad, brought me objectivity. 

I didn’t need to love my body. It was a body and it would be silly of me to become too attached to the way it looks at any given time because it is continually changing. Slowly, I came to realize that I valued my body not because of what it looked like, but because of what it allowed me to do. 

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. It took a very long time for me to heal the disordered relationship I had with myself and I’m continually working on it. However, this form of “exposure therapy” and reacquainting myself with my body was invaluable to me and my journey with self love. 

I’d never realized how afraid I was of my own body until I was forced to confront it.

I urge anyone who is struggling to accept who they are to give this exercise a try. Spend more time with yourself in your natural state, without clothes, makeup, or decoration, and simply observe the emotions that arise. If you need to, do not shy away from seeking professional help. It’s your responsibility to care for both your physical and mental health. 

If you’re really feeling down, think of how ridiculous it would be if other animals worried about their body-image. I mean, can you imagine your dog asking you if they look fat today?