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No One is Perfect: Body Image and Shame

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: August 1st, 2020

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Shame is something that many people experience, if you suffer from shame you are not alone. This is the first and most important thing to realize.

Some of the most important factors that help cause shame for women are:

  • Appearance or body image
  • Motherhood
  • Family
  • Parenting
  • Money
  • Work
  • Health
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Traumas
  • Speaking up
  • Being labelled

Can you see how most of the above factors can cause shame if self esteem is low. When this is the case a woman will not be able to see reality as it is and she will focus on the negative. In terms of how you feel, it is most important to work on how you see yourself in a role or in a particular situation. You may be a wonderful mother but if you believe you are not then you can feel shame. This is the same for any of the above factors and body image is no different. The secret to feeling less shame is to build your self esteem and change the way you view yourself and your body.

Everyone is unique and you have different triggers for shame. Whatever it is that makes you feel shame about your body deal with it don’t ignore it?


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Where does your body image come from?

If you are a woman you may feel pressured to look beautiful. This pressure comes from the media. There are many many products being sold to women on the basis that they will make you look more beautiful. Marketing helps women to feel that they need to look as good as they can. Society also seems to suggest that a woman will only be successful if she looks attractive. This is a lot of pressure.

What is it that you don’t like about your appearance and more importantly why?

The shame you feel may be totally unjustified. Maybe your own self image is fooling you. How do you know how others really see you?

A good example of how appearance and body image affect women is pregnancy. It is very natural and every pregnant woman faces similar changes in terms of body changes. Rather than hate what happens to you, why not try to accept it is natural and be kind to yourself for a change? Being careful to look after yourself helps and when you have had your baby then you can think about getting back to how you looked before.

Maybe the shame you feel comes from your parent’s influence. Maybe they commented negatively about you and you have always believed what they said. Just because someone comments about your appearance negatively that doesn’t mean what they said was true or that everyone thinks the same. Unfortunately as we grow up our parent’s words can have a very long lasting effect. Think about this seriously and ask yourself if you believe this is a factor for you.

What to do to make yourself feel better

Body shame is something you can do something about. Your choices are to either to change how you think about yourself, learn to accept yourself as you are or do something to improve your weak points. The first two require you to work on your self esteem, the third involves an action plan. Let’s look at these in turn:

  1. Change how you think about yourself – this involves being more positive and improving your self esteem. To increase your self esteem focus on the parts of your body you are proud of and think others admire. What are your most attractive features? It is much better to focus on what is right than try to correct first what you don’t like. With better self esteem you’ll begin to look at yourself differently. You should also try to remember any compliments you have had and focus on them for a change rather than the negative words you have in your head. One great way to change the way you think about yourself is to try a proven technique such as self hypnosis – it is an incredibly successful technique – here is a great download to help you look and feel more attractive now
  2. Accepting yourself as you are means learning to love who and what you are including how you look. Your appearance may actually be very different from how you see yourself. Being comfortable with your body means first accepting things about your body that you cannot change such as your height or your physical characteristics. After you accept what you cannot change then you are free to feel better about yourself and this will raise your self esteem. There is nothing worse for your confidence and self image than trying to be what you are not. Accepting yourself does not mean you can’t build on what you have or improve your appearance. Just make sure as a first step you are happy with the things you can’t change before you try to change other aspects of your appearance.
  3. Now you have accepted yourself and started to think more positively about yourself thanks to changing your focus and thanks to the self hypnosis program I mentioned above, you can begin to plan how you can improve how you look so that you can feel even better about your body. This is yet another valuable step in removing shame from your life completely. So what should you do to look better?Start by smiling. Dress smartly and buy yourself something special. Work on your posture so you walk straighter and feel more confident. Go to the gym and start exercising to tone up your body. Take up a sport or some activity which gets you moving preferably outdoors. Eat healthy food, you are what you eat after all. Any positive steps you take will not only make you look better, they will make you feel more energetic and healthy.

You don’t have to stay locked in your prison of shame. You have the keys to feeling good about your body. Don’t let others tell you how you should look. Work out for yourself how you can look your best and most natural. the compliments and attention you’ll get will amaze you!

My e-book “Self Esteem Secrets” will show you how to take steps towards becoming more confident about your body and will also enable you to enjoy a life filled with healthy self esteem. Get a copy of my e-book today.

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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.

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