“Let’s say you’re someone who is really uncomfortable with their arms out, even alone,” Ms. Bisbing said. “You might start with one minute a day when you are without a cardigan.” Then you build up to two minutes. Eventually, you try it around others. It can also help to look at your body in the mirror for short periods of time, she said, and train your brain to describe it using simple, nonjudgmental language.
It is critical, however, for anyone grappling with concerns like body dysmorphia or disordered eating to connect with a therapist to get help, Ms. Bisbing said. So be mindful of potential signs of a more serious mental health issue, including distorted body image or feelings of shame about what you eat.
Surround yourself with images of different body types
Pop culture and social media have conditioned us all to see the “slender body, or the young body, or the able body” as the default and the most worthy, Ms. Tovar said. “But that just really isn’t accurate.” So she encourages everyone to surround themselves with pictures of different body types.
“Print out, say, 20 images of bodies that are closer to yours and bodies that are larger,” Ms. Tovar said. Save them to your phone or put them around your mirror so you see them often.
Curate what you follow on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok as well. Though the link between social media and negative body image isn’t as clear-cut as it is sometimes made out to be — and the body positivity movement has faced some criticism — research shows that spending time looking at body-positive content online can boost your mood.
“Remember that nearly all adult naked bodies jiggle or wobble, have hair, have cellulite, have scars, have the marks of living,” Dr. Engeln said. “It’s easy to forget this if you’re mired in a media world that only includes Photoshopped images of the young and thin.”
Audio produced by Kate Winslett.