Help with body image

  • Lifeisgood

    Posts: 46

    Oct 20, 2007 2:26 PM GMT
    So much of what we look like, and are able to accomplish through diet, weight training, cardio, or even yoga, relates to our genetics. Some of us will never have a 6 pack.

    So I think at some point I need to address the issue of body image, more specifically, acceptance of my own body.

    I know that I should always be at least trying to eat right, excercise properly etc. But I still struggle with my own limitations, phycially, or even medically.

    I was hoping to get some sound advice out there about acceptance of your own body. I suspect that even the power players out there that have incredible bodies may even think they fall short at times.

    What steps can you take toward body acceptance and the acceptance of your own image. I don't ever want to walk out in public and feel that people are judging me because I don't have the perfect body, but it happens.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 20, 2007 3:53 PM GMT
    I don't have advice. But I have stories that you might find interesting.

    Two things have helped me, although both are a little idiosyncratic, I think. On the one hand, spending several years modeling helped my self-esteem. On the other hand, the fact that I'm attracted to skinny twinks has helped my self esteem.

    Let me explain.

    1) Getting into modeling really helped my self-esteem. I know it seems odd to say, since I was constantly surrounded by very hot guys, some of them much hotter than me. However, what I got to see was this: the vast majority of these guys were all insecure and neurotic as hell.

    It helped me to realize a few things. Just because you feel insecure about something doesn't mean that anyone else sees it as a flaw in you. In fact, feeling insecure has absolutely no correlation to your "actual standing" (this is true of physical attractiveness, and also other things).

    I found this reassuring, because I realized that if someone that I look at and think "god he's perfect" can be insecure about his looks, then the fact that I have insecurities doesn't mean that nobody is looking at me in the same way.

    (A little convoluted, I know.)

    2) The fact that I'm attracted to a type that's totally different from myself also helped my self-esteem. It forced me to realize, in a very personal and visceral way, that different people have different types.

    For example, I used to be very insecure because I felt that my face isn't "boyish" enough to be attractive. I assumed that "boyishness" was the universal standard of beauty because it is what I liked. But after dating a lot of "boyish" guys, I began to realize... that's not what they were looking for. In fact, most of them were much less attracted to guys with boyish faces than guys that look more like me.

    At first, I didn't believe it. "Oh, you're just saying that" and so on and so forth.

    But eventually it began to sink in that it's true. You may have insecurities because you're not your own "ideal type", but that doesn't mean that you're not someone else's.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 20, 2007 3:56 PM GMT
    Beer.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 20, 2007 4:15 PM GMT
    I totally agree with Gregstevens on both points.

    For me, a turning point was having the oportunity to get muscular guys knocked off their pedastals. I think this is where it helps being in LA, the land where the "perfect" men in magazines and TV shows actually live. I used to fall into the trap of thinking these guys had it all - you get to know enough of them and see that they do in fact have their insecurities and it really brings home the point that the exterior really isn't the issue at all.

    and the other turning point was getting attention from muscular men and realizing i don't have to be a certain way to attract the men i like. you see this all the time. do you watch "survivor?" in this last episode, the hunkiest guy of this season - this perfect-bodied adonis - expressed sexual interest in the butch overweight lunch lady because he loved her work ethic. he said something like if she were just a little closer in age to him, she would be in trouble! It was very sweet because you would never expect him to look at her in that way.

    this isn't necessarily to say that there every man wants every other man. But it is to say that you never know who is going to spark to you and you only do yourself a disservice by deciding others won't like you.

    for me, these two main points led to a really important understanding: there is a difference between how i perceive myself and how the world perceives me. so, if I feel unattractive that does not necessarly make it so. Understanding that difference is the thing that allows you to go from being OWNED by your body image to owning IT.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 20, 2007 5:05 PM GMT
    This seems to be an issue for me as well. No matter what I do, I'm never happy with how I look. Simply stated, I feel small, I think I look small, and I want to be bigger.

    But, I've also come to accept the fact that I'll never be happy with how I look physically so it's not a big deal. I continue to workout and hit the gym and push towards a psychologically unattainable goal. But hey, at least I have something to keep me busy right?

    And while I do get some compliments on my body, I always brush them off. I'm not happy with the way I look and never will be. I don't worry about it though, easier to accept that and move on than to worry about it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 20, 2007 9:30 PM GMT
    Some of what you are talking about is just plain maturity, or the lack there of.

    I think self-esteem comes from allowing yourself to like yourself. There's a difference between aspiring to be good at something, say, bodybuilding, and being self-loathing.

    Instead of putting some one else in their place, or lashing out (transformation and projection), you come to accept how you are on any given day, and that there are 6.6 billion folks in the world and there are gonna' be some crazies (I have two of them on here) that lash out, or try to get to you, etc. (transformation).

    Many very insecure folks lash out at self-confidence, because it makes them uncomfortable, and they like to call it arrogance.

    You have to remind yourself of several things:
    1. If you continue to do things the same, things will stay mostly the same (given choas theory, they'll eventually change no matter what).

    2. You, for the most part, play a huge part in your own destiny. Folks come to the U.S. not knowing the language, or another person and build empires (look at The Governator). If they can do it, you can to. It's just a matter of doing it, and learning not to waste time on self-pity, weak-minded, enablers, and so on. Surround yourself by people who plunge forward.

    3. Coddling the weak, or weak part, or a fault, is only acting as an enabler and will make things worse. If you have something you need to work on, be it interpersonal skills, weight management (need to lose, or gain), employment, anger management, etc. coddling it, whining about it, etc. will not cause improvement. E.g, if you have weak body part and you wrap it in a compression bandage, you only make it weaker. Instead, you need to work through and beyond your comfort zone, through whatever pain, and hurt, or effort is required strengthen and grow from the experience. Strong folks (of mind, and body) don't get strong by being weak-minded, by making excuses, and by being coddled. Getting out of that comfort zone is scary for weak-minded folks, but, if they aren't coddled, they find out they are capable of way more that they thought. I.e. it's completely wrong to be all-accepting. There's no excuse for being 200 pounds overweight, etc. Change, and acceptance, often aren't all that comfortable, but, the end result is usually a goal acquired. Eg. if I diet 21 weeks and spend four hours a day in the gym, at the end, holding the trophy in my hand, I say mission accomplished, and set a new, higher, goal. That's not obsession. That's focus, and executing a plan for success, removing obstacles, and plunging ahead. Discipline is essential to change.

    4. Realize that change takes time.

    5. Success comes through coming up with a plan, and executing it. Sometimes that plan has to be changed mid-stream. That is fine.

    6. Don't be influenced by false belief systems. They are just that: false.

    7. More than anything, happiness is a state of mind. E.g., pictureless, profileless, discreet, etc. put themselves through a world of turmoil, needlessly (the enemy within) instead of saying this is who I am, and if you don't like it, to bad. They take, take, take, and are delusional about themselves, and about how others view them, all while throwing out any level of integrity. It works every time to walk tall and proud. There will be those of little confidence, who lash out at that, but, in reality, they are the ones that are ill. I will never be an enabler to that mental illness. No person should live a life of fear, nor shame.

    8. Understand...doing nothing means nothing changes.

    9. Life is full of concessions. When I diet for 23 weeks, or spend 4 hours a day in the gym, of made concessions in other parts of my life to obtain a goal. That's fine by me. I don't do it because of low esteem , but, because I like doing it, and I do it well. Not everyone is going to be the six pack, as you said. You decide the level you'd like to be at; the amount of effort you'd like to put into it; what you can afford; how it relates to other parts of your life, and accept it at that.

    It's simple, really, and all quite logical.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 21, 2007 3:01 AM GMT
    First: Get some sunglasses. Dark ones icon_cool.gif

    -When people can't see your eyes they won't try as much so you won't catch people looking at you.

    Next: Smile! Always smile, or have a smirk like you find something funny.

    Next: Stand up straight! Really watch your posture.

    Why change your life when you can get results just by changing how you present yourself. Make yourself the image of self assured man.

    Be positive! icon_razz.gif Frowns can be spread but so can a smile icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 21, 2007 3:23 AM GMT
    beauty.jpg

    Despair.com
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 22, 2007 3:11 AM GMT
    A bodybuilding hypnosis CD helps. Just taking 30 minutes a day to hear someone tell you that you are changing and that you are starting to like the way you look really, really helps you learn to have positive thoughts about your body and working out, and to overcome many of the negative things you hear from advertising all the time. I have the one from hypnoshop.com, and recommend it, bus a CD from any accredited source should be OK. Just make sure to review the content and make sure it has stuff that you want, and check to make sure it's reputable.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 22, 2007 3:20 AM GMT
    chuckystud -

    Great post - I couldn't agree more.

    The problem for most people though is that they don't see it as being simple. They carry way to much garbage around with them that gets in the way of their seeing that clearly.

    R
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 22, 2007 4:42 AM GMT
    I've found how we perceive ourselves is entirely up to ourselves... I was bulemic for my first two years in high school, and I found the only way I would ever feel like I had a good body was to literally look in the mirror and say out loud "I have a great body!"

    The mirror thing sounds a little psycho, but the only person who can fix how you see yourself is YOU. [edit] I'd probably start by changing your screen name icon_wink.gif [/edit]
  • phill

    Posts: 117

    Oct 25, 2007 12:48 AM GMT
    First my story in the shortened form then my advice:

    body image has been a major factor in my life. I was severely overweight at my heaviest reaching 285 lbs. I stopped eventually relying on the things that gave me comfort like laziness as well as sodas and bad food in general. This worked for a while but then i reached a weight and instead of being happy about my accomplishments i felt i wasn't thin enough at 220lbs and 6 feet tall, so i tried the anorexia treatment to great success. Loosing another 40 lbs. What i did was tell myself that all things can be gained negatively. I stopped being anorexic but during that time i learned about myself my belief systems who i am and where i want to be as a person. I became vegan for one and found a deeper sense of spirituality.

    But after a really bad breakup(my very first boyfriend was an older man whom when i broke up with physically beat me) i sought control and only ever really having control of my eating habits i became anorexic once more dropping from 185 to 145lbs. Eating less thann 1000 calories a day walking 6 miles a night. At the end of it looked at myself and couldn't bear to see myself that thin and still thinking I was fat. It was the first time i had the notion that i was living in a mental state trapped by demons of a fat kid who no longer was fat. I am back up to 169 lbs and am working out because i want to feel healthy i want to know that the gains i have been given are from hard work instead of restriction.

    I think as far as practical advice goes it was also a matter of desensitizing myself to my body. To let go of the preconceived notion of what male desire was because in reality i had an infantile understanding of what that was. Something that had not changed in all those years. Also allowing myself to be naked because often times while i would objectify my body but i wouldn't look at my body so how could I learn to love the things that are unique. There are some things on my body that stress me out that make me unhappy but i understand that this body and the person inside it has walked a million miles to get to this place and time. It is a happy place indeed. Never give up on your goals. It took me almost killing myself with my weight loss to realize that i am unique and i am worth something even to myself. The rest is just life, experience, trial and error, and hope.
  • newtrain

    Posts: 8

    Oct 27, 2007 12:44 PM GMT
    You are the centre of your world. Nothing else matters.

    YOU hold the power: YOU make yourself feel big in your world or you can let others make you feel small. It is all about self esteem.

    If what you want is that adonis stature....work HARD for it. If you are NOT PREPARED to work hard for it.....ACCEPT yourself for who you are and forget the rest and get on with your life.

    It's that simple.


    GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU GO FOR IT!






  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Oct 27, 2007 1:54 PM GMT
    People will tell you it's all in your head, and it is.

    The problem is that knowing that doesn't necessarily help you.

    I hated my body with a passion for years. Convinced I was scrawny, fat, ugly, etc. (When I wasn't, I wasn't as built as I am now, but I was neither scrawny nor fat) It didn't matter than friends and family told me otherwise, I hated my body. I believed they were only being nice because they had to, because they were my friends and family. I realize now this was a disservice to them.

    What did finally help:

    Despite it not really getting through, hearing from friends that I was attractive and worthwhile was the first step.

    The next big thing was being a summer camp counselor. This was a progressive camp run by ex-hippies. There was a strict rule about insults. This included, surprisingly, a rule about insults directed towards oneself. (No, really, I got corrected by the director for making a comment about my paleness). Now, this seems like a small thing, but it isn't. Not insulting *yourself* goes a long way towards not reinforcing those negative views you have of yourself.

    The biggest thing was the most lucky, and possibly hardest. I dated a man for 3 years, who thought I was beautiful and sexy and amazing. At some point about a year in I suddenly stopped as I was about to argue with him again about my flaws and thought, "Shit, how incredibly crass is it of me to do that? Here's a man I love and respect, but I can't respect him enough to believe him when he says I'm beautiful? Here I am effectively telling my partner he's a blind idiot."

    Something clicked after that.

    Since then, I got into art modeling, which has also done wonders for my self esteem because you get to see yourself from outside yourself. Looked at right, I don't see me, I see an attractive guy as part of a piece of art and then I suddenly go, "Wait... that's me." It's been an amazing way to feel beautiful and strong and vulnerable all at the same time.



    The single piece of advice I have is that you have to do whatever it takes to make yourself believe you are worthwhile. Don't insult yourself, try not to argue with friends who tell you you're attractive/good enough/whatever. And keep beating on that self-esteem door until it opens.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 2:24 PM GMT
    If all else fails, just try these rose colored glasses.

    rosecolored.jpg
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 2:53 PM GMT
    Interesting thread, LifeisGood. I've had the same problem all my life. Indeed, my mother put me in a gym at 5 because she was so unhappy with the way I looked -- something I internalized.

    It's cool that Greg and Diver had positive experience modeling. Back in the Pleistocene Epoch when I was recruited as a model, I found the three years I did it nightmarish. It only added to my feeling of being hideous. I guess for some people it amounts to "exposure therapy."

    As I'm sure you know,psychology's term for what you're describing is "body dysmorphic disorder." It is rampant among gay men, probably because we grow up thinking that our body's sexual desire is taboo.

    Cognitive therapy might help, but BDD is pretty much regarded as a chronic condition.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 4:02 PM GMT
    obscenewishIndeed, my mother put me in a gym at 5 because she was so unhappy with the way I looked -- something I internalized.


    I can beat that. My mother began completely destroying me at 5 because she was so unhappy with the way I looked -- something I internalized. Now I have no friends, a job I hate, I can barely keep a roof over my head, I have declared bankruptcy, I had a stroke and generally live a miserable existence and would commit suicide if I thought my funeral wouldn't be an embarassment. My brother, who she treated like a prince, has a fantastic life!

    Most people would insist there's no connection. What do you think?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 4:28 PM GMT
    Resolve yourself to make the bitch pay.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 4:28 PM GMT
    I don't know enough about your mother to really say, Chaser. In the case of seriously abusive or neglectful parents, the child frequently grows up conflating pain and love. One's relationships tend to be masochistic.

    This can get generalized to one's relationship with the world at large. The effort of such a person is to break the masochistic pattern. It is scary, since at some level, as I said, the individual is conflating love and pain. So, if you end the masochistic process, for a period you feel even worse, since you are eliminating the perverse sense of love. But it feels more like a state of grief than the self-abuse of masochism.

    Breaking the pattern usually requires help -- from a therapist, spiritual adviser, coach, etc. This in itself is daunting to many because the "helper" is almost immediately cast in the parental role.

    I went through this process myself. The most important step is acknowledging the masochism -- the "addiction" to pain. I think that's what Chucky, in his inimitable style, has been trying to get across to you.

    My mother had tons of plastic surgery, as did my father. The last time I saw my mother, shortly before she died, her last gesture was to squeeze my biceps and give me the "okay" sign. (She was a stroke patient of 15 years, couldn't walk, talk, read or write.) It made me laugh that on her way out, she was still making evaluations of my appearance.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 7:17 PM GMT
    "As I'm sure you know,psychology's term for what you're describing is "body dysmorphic disorder." It is rampant among gay men, probably because we grow up thinking that our body's sexual desire is taboo."

    I never had much awareness of my body at all until it started to get fat in my late 30s. The BDD didn't kick in until after I'd lost the excess fat and started putting on muscle. According to my therapist, the reason it wasn't an issue in my youth is that I essentially dealt with my abhorred sexuality by abandoning my body.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Oct 27, 2007 7:35 PM GMT
    It's hard to get past knowing you'll never have the body you want to have.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 27, 2007 7:43 PM GMT
    Paradox:
    According to my therapist, the reason it wasn't an issue in my youth is that I essentially dealt with my abhorred sexuality by abandoning my body.

    Exactly. Being disassociated from your body is a way of being "invisible."

    I'm sure it's less so now, but most of the gay men I know over 40 have had this experience. In most of the therapy groups I've conducted, I've tried to have a body worker present. It makes a phenomenal difference for many people.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 29, 2007 1:45 PM GMT
    TimberooIt's hard to get past knowing you'll never have the body you want to have


    The body most guys (gay guys especially)want requires a commitment many people are unable to make. I just looked at an old issue of M&F. The fat-loss eating plan they had required such a strict schedule you wonder how a person who adhered to it could remain gainfully employed.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 29, 2007 5:15 PM GMT
    "The body most guys (gay guys especially)want requires a commitment many people are unable to make."

    You misspelled 'unwilling'.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 29, 2007 5:25 PM GMT
    ParadoxYou misspelled 'unwilling'.


    Maybe they are unwilling. But did you ever hear the phrase "life is what happens when you're making other plans"?