How we look at ourselves in relation to the world is the basis of body image. There are two kinds of body image. Internal and external. Internal body image is affected by all our senses, not just what we see. It is a subjective experience but is often affected by many outside factors (external body image). Our family, our friends, our co-workers and the media all have an effect on our body image. These outside forces are hard to control.
The good news is we can control what we think of ourselves, at least, with a little practice. Changing our view of ourselves takes a conscious effort. It means being aware of our internal dialogue (what we say in our head i.e. "I'm so stupid") and sometimes replacing it with another thought or if you like affirmation. It can be something as simple as "I am beautiful" or something longer. Live Large is a good book of affirmations on many topics (see related link below for complete review).
Negative self-talk can take a strong root and interrupting it will take practice. It's helpful to use the word "stop" prior to the affirmation. If you're alone you may even say it aloud. There have been times I've had to use it more than once because my internal voice can be quite overbearing.
Taking care of your internal dialogue is a big step in improving your body image but you can't leave it at that. You need to expose yourself to size positive influences (like this site). Hang out with accepting people, stay away from those who are not. Watch shows that promote a positive body image no matter what your size, sex or preference are. And most importantly, when someone calls your body image into question, don't take it. Stand up for yourself. This too takes practice. Call people on their comments and attitudes. You may feel like you're going to pass out the first time you do it but when it's over you'll feel better and more confident having done so. Same goes for the media. Let them have it.
Things you can do to improve your body image:
* Be aware and discourage your negative self talk.
* Ask your friends to call you on your negative self talk when it sneaks into conversations.
* Educate yourself (your family, your friends and your co-workers).
* Expose yourself to body positive reading, viewing and other activities.
* Take five minutes a day and journal all the nasty things you're thinking about yourself at that moment. Crunch it up in a ball and trash it.
* Don't settle for less.
Some sites that encourage a positive body image:
* About Face
* BellaOnline's Large & Lovely
* Don't Tell Me What Size I Must B