Rediscovering True Beauty: A Path to Positive Body Image

The Profound Impact of Body Image

Your body image is more than just how you see yourself physically—it's also about the thoughts and feelings you have regarding your appearance, shape, size, and how your body functions. In today's world, many of us struggle with negative body image, which can deeply impact us emotionally. This perception often becomes intertwined with our sense of who we are and our self-worth. The reflection you see in the mirror isn't just a picture; it carries with it the emotions and beliefs you attach to your identity. Therefore, body image, though it might seem simple, has a profound impact on our lives. It influences our self-confidence, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life, making it a crucial aspect of our mental health.

The Mirror of Perception

In my journey through working on my own body image and counseling others, I've come to see body image as a deeply personal reflection that is subtly and powerfully intertwined with one’s sense of self and worthiness. To illustrate this, I can’t help but think about the Harry Potter books.  If you haven't read or watched Harry Potter, bear with me. I think of body image similarly to the enchanted mirror in the series. When someone looks into this mirror, they see what they most desire. Harry lost both of his parents as a young child, and not surprisingly, he becomes completely captivated by the reflection of seeing himself with his parents, , returning again and again to gaze at it. He becomes so obsessed that his wise mentor Dumbledore steps in and advises Harry: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

The Trap of Idealized Beauty

Why bring up Harry Potter? Because our perception of our bodies often reflects what we most yearn for—an idealized version of ourselves, acceptance, or a sense of belonging. Unlike Harry, who sees what he desires, we often look into the mirror and become obsessed with what we don’t see, what we aren’t, and how we could be better. We become entrenched in what we believe we lack. However, just as Harry learns that dwelling on the mirror's illusions prevents him from fulfilling his purpose, we too need to recognize the trap of fixating on our physical reflections as something that keeps us in bondage.

Embracing True Healing

I've discovered that true healing comes from embracing our bodies as they are, not from obsessively making them into what we believe they should be. I've counseled people who, by the world's standards, have beautiful, stunning reflections, yet they look into the mirror and see a multitude of hideous flaws. There is a truth that may be difficult to process, but I see it unfold time and again with my clients: if you do not like your body now, losing those "extra" pounds or achieving some other physical goal will never satisfy you. Harry kept believing that one last glance would be enough, but the mirror's enticement was too strong. His dreams started to consume him while his life passed him by.

Just as Harry learned to look beyond the mirror's allure to find his true path, we can also find peace by looking into and away from the mirror, accepting and nurturing our bodies with compassion and gratitude rather than criticalness and harshness.  Again, as Dumbledore advised Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…” This wisdom holds profound relevance when considering our relationship with our bodies, especially in the context of eating disorders and body image struggles. When we spend too much time fixating on our bodies, we believe will fulfill our deepest desires, yet we risk forgetting to live the lives we already have. In the pursuit of an ideal body image, we may become consumed by unrealistic standards and obsessive thoughts about appearance. The irony is that in chasing these elusive ideals, we often sacrifice our physical health, mental well-being, and the richness of our daily lives.

The Illusion of Happiness

When I hear someone say, "I'll be happy if I'm thinner," or "I need to lose weight," I understand where they’re coming from. I've been there myself, wrestling with the same thoughts and societal pressures. But here's what I've learned over time: chasing an idealized version of beauty is like running on a never-ending treadmill. You might reach a certain weight or look a certain way, but the finish line keeps moving. True happiness and self-acceptance don’t come from conforming to an external standard. Instead, they come from within—through recognizing and appreciating the unique beauty and worth you already possess. I’ve seen clients transform not just their bodies, but their entire outlook on life, by shifting their focus from what they think they need to change to what they can celebrate about themselves right now. It’s a profound shift that brings genuine, lasting peace and fulfillment. So, while the world may push a certain ideal, remember that your true beauty and happiness come from embracing and nurturing who you are, not who you think you should be.

Reflect on Your Own Body Image

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your own body image perceptions. How do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? Do you find yourself focusing on flaws or embracing your unique beauty and strength? Consider how these perceptions shape your daily life, your self-esteem, and your overall sense of worth. Are your thoughts about your body aligned with the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)? Do you see yourself as a masterpiece, created with love and purpose by the Creator? Would you tell your friend, sister, mother, or daughter what you tell yourself when you look in the mirror?

A Path to Healing

If your answers, like so many, are rooted more in criticism and self-loathing than acceptance and neutrality, I invite you to take a few moments each day to practice gratitude for your body. Meditate on scriptures that affirm your worth and ensure that your social media platforms are helping you care for your body rather than fueling comparison and negativity. As you embark on this journey, remember that true healing and acceptance come from embracing who you are, not just what you look like.

Pursuing Healing

If you find yourself struggling with body image or grappling with negative self-perceptions, I want to encourage you to be proactive in pursuing your healing. Books can be a real source for making progress on your healing journey.  Beyond the books I recommended in my last blog under the paragraph Finding Freedom and Support, I would also recommend Just Eat It by Laura Thomas, or Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon.

As someone who understands the profound impact these challenges can have on your mental and emotional well-being, I would be honored to walk alongside you on your journey toward self-acceptance and positive body image. Together, we can explore faith-based practices, develop healthy coping strategies, and build a supportive community around you that fosters love and compassion. 

If you live in Illinois, please don't hesitate to reach out to me for guidance and support. Feel free to contact me at or call me directly at 331.267.5005.  You don't have to face this journey alone—let's work together to embrace the unique beauty and worth that you possess.

For further reading, see also my previous blog entitled: Embracing Healing:  Reclaiming Your Relationship with Food, Body and Spirit.