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Convincing yourself that you're actually thin/beautiful?

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Old 05-28-2013, 11:24 AM   #1
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Question Convincing yourself that you're actually thin/beautiful?

I'm thin. How do I get the reflexive "I'm fat" thoughts out of my head? How do I stop comparing myself to thinner people and feeling "fat"? How do I appreciate it when someone tells me I'm beautiful - without instantly starting a list of reasons why I'm not in my head?

Honestly, I think I'm beautiful. Not the most beautiful person on Earth, but who wants to be that anyway? I believe that when I put in the time and effort to arrive at that conclusion, but it doesn't come easy. How can I be in the default brain space of "I'm beautiful"?

(I guess the being beautiful part applies to all of us, even if we're not super skinny.)

Do I just have to wait to get older and wiser? What can I do to get to that place of self-acceptance and contentment?
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:34 AM   #2
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I wish I knew the answer because I want to learn to be able to do the same thing. I'm a normal BMI and am in relatively good shape and yet I want to be better and can't stop comparing myself to others.

I think we need to retrain ourselves to think differently. Maybe after years of correcting our thoughts we'll start believing them...
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:57 PM   #3
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When somebody gives you a compliment just say thank you and then shut your mouth really fast. LOl . I actually had to learn that. I used to say: thanks, it's just this new top or whatever, constantly trying to say... it's not really me who's beautiful. You have to remember when you are given a compliment it's not about what you think, it's about what the person giving it thinks.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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Say what you want about the Fat Acceptance movement, and even the fat admirers and fat fetishists, but they taught me that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.... and the beholder has a choice...

So start beholding.... to find your beauty at any size, first you have to look for it.... then start talking to yourself. When you tell yourself that you're fat or unattractive, talk back. Scold your critical inner voice and stand up for yourself to the inner critic or bully. Look for beauty, sexiness, strength, confidence.... whatever trait you want to see in yourself.

Ironically, I wasn't able to keep weight off for any substantial amount of time, until I truly felt beautiful, strong, confident, and drop-dead sexy.

If I could feel those things at 394 lbs, ill and virtually housebound (spending 14 to 20 hours sleeping because my brain was never reaching restorative sleep), I have every confidence that your strong, sexy, beautiful self can beat down your inner critic.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alizarin View Post
I'm thin. How do I get the reflexive "I'm fat" thoughts out of my head? How do I stop comparing myself to thinner people and feeling "fat"? How do I appreciate it when someone tells me I'm beautiful - without instantly starting a list of reasons why I'm not in my head?

Honestly, I think I'm beautiful. Not the most beautiful person on Earth, but who wants to be that anyway? I believe that when I put in the time and effort to arrive at that conclusion, but it doesn't come easy. How can I be in the default brain space of "I'm beautiful"?

(I guess the being beautiful part applies to all of us, even if we're not super skinny.)

Do I just have to wait to get older and wiser? What can I do to get to that place of self-acceptance and contentment?
If you figure it out let me know I am 61! And still can't get through my head...once you HAVE been heavy you seem to always see yourself that way
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Joil View Post
When somebody gives you a compliment just say thank you and then shut your mouth really fast. LOl . I actually had to learn that. I used to say: thanks, it's just this new top or whatever, constantly trying to say... it's not really me who's beautiful. You have to remember when you are given a compliment it's not about what you think, it's about what the person giving it thinks.
This. Exactly.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by alizarin View Post
IHow do I get the reflexive "I'm fat" thoughts out of my head?
My understanding is that some of this seems to be due to the biology of self-recognition and the workings of our long- and short-term memory. Your mind is still carrying around a fat self-image, like a photograph that it keeps taking out & pasting across your current image. I'm not a scientist, but it seems to be that you have to keep feeding it new images of yourself. Not just mirror gazing, but photographs. Maybe you need to stare a long time at the smaller clothes you fit in. Maybe you need measurements. Even then, I'm not sure it will work. For instance, I've got a lot of older friends who are also carrying around outdated self images, imagining themselves as looking younger than they really do, or having less gray in their hair, or something else. It's just really hard for us to see physical change in ourselves.

I'm also assuming that when you think, "I'm fat," you're thinking only about your appearance, and that you're not using it as a larger metaphor for thinking, "I'm unacceptable, I'm bad." I know something about that, because I do that, too. I tend to think I'm fat when I feel tired, or lazy, or uninspired, with extremely low energy. My weight probably hasn't changed at all, but because my body is dragging, it feels like an unusually heavy load.

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How do I stop comparing myself to thinner people and feeling "fat"?
I'm still working on this. Seems to be a combination of self-talk and stopping looking, looking away, changing your thoughts. In some low moods, I just can't bear to look at Vogue or Bazaar. When this happens at the gym, I remind myself that I may not be the thinnest person in the class, but I'm one of the strongest ones there, and I'm probably pretty close to the best version of me that I can be. I mean, there are limits to our power to modify and shape ourselves. I can't be anyone other than who I am.

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How do I appreciate it when someone tells me I'm beautiful - without instantly starting a list of reasons why I'm not in my head?
Fake it till you make it. Thank them. Stop there. And tell that other voice, the critical one, to shut the f%$#@ up. It is not your friend.

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Do I just have to wait to get older and wiser?
I've got a couple decades on you but we clearly share many of the same issues. My advice: Don't wait. Do the work now. Because if you don't, it'll still be waiting for you in the years ahead. Why not be happier with yourself now? If you can spare yourself years of self-criticism, well, that has to be a good thing, right?
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:44 PM   #8
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It's funny, because I don't usually think of myself consciously as fat any more. Sometimes I'll think that I can't fit through like 2 chairs at a restaurant or something like that, but then I usually remember that I'm not XL anymore and can.

What has been crushing for me is that when I was obese people used to say I had a "pretty face" - which I know is something that is commonly said to heavy people by well meaning people wanting to give a compliment. But I wanted to believe it was true for me and that I was really attractive under the fat.

I have been so upset that I'm NOT pretty after losing the weight. I may be more attractive to people that think thin is more appealing, but I didn't become pretty after all.

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Old 05-28-2013, 04:01 PM   #9
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Wow--what great advice on this thread. I'm soaking it all in.

For me, oddly enough, I came to accept myself after I sort of hit "rock bottom" in terms of vanity. I was always the "pretty" one in my family. I was told that time and time again. I grew up with that in my mind. However, I haven't aged well. I grayed prematurely (if not for hair color, I would be completely gray), my breasts have sagged, I've gotten wrinkles, etc. I look every bit of my 45 years. I went through a period where I was obsessed with trying to appear younger, but over time, I learned to just accept that I wasn't who I formerly was and would never be. In essence, I internally said, "So what?" and started cultivating my character, which I am sorry to say was deficit from so many years of being vain. Ironically, only when I did that did I start to become satisfied with how I look. (If you're interested, the poet Tony Hoagland has written a poem called "Beauty" that perfectly describes the type of experience I'm referring to. I don't know how a man recognized it, but he did).

This difference has been so liberating. I'm almost ashamed to say that the old me would walk into a room and automatically size up the other women to assure myself that I was the "prettiest" (repulsive, I know, but I'm being honest). Now, I genuinely recognize someone's physical beauty and can even point it out to my husband, and it's in a completely objective, non-competitive way. I recognize my flaws, but I feel confident in who I am right now.

I'm not sure that helps, but I hope it offers you another perspective on this issue.
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:00 PM   #10
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Yes it is great to read everyone's comments,I have always felt pretty,now being thin( again after a regain and loss) I feel like the ME I amNOW,I think as lin43 said I am much better now at not picking other women apart( to make myself better) but to actually see through things.And as Saef said I know I am in the best Me shape I can be in which is dang good for my age or some one 1/2 that.
I think pictures really help the last time I was near this weight( for 1 1/2 yrs) I barely had any pictures I don 't think I saw it but I felt it. This time try to put it together.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:13 AM   #11
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Hey everyone - thank you for all your thoughtful replies I'm glad we're talking about it.

Joil - I'm pretty good at just accepting compliments with a "Thank you" and a smile, I don't talk back aloud, just put myself down in my head. But it's true, this is something I had to learn too, and luckily I did a couple of years ago. Good news is - if I could change that habit, maybe I can change my inner critic habit too

kaplods - Interesting point of view you're taking here. It makes me think that I'm being kind of egoistic in thinking that what _I_ think (that I'm fat and/or ugly) is the one-and-only-truth and anyone who thinks otherwise is being slightly delusional ( - but maybe that line of thought isn't promoting self-love either ). I think there's truth to what you're saying though. I commend you for being able to silence that voice of yours, it's encouraging to see that you were able to do it, although you were in a much more dire situation than mine. I'll definitely try and talk back to that inner voice more often and more consistently - and one of the strategies I'll have is definitely focusing on the attributes I _do_ have (pretty hair, finally almost-acne free skin (at 25!), pretty eyes, what-have-you), instead of focusing on the things I find myself lacking in. So - thank you for sharing! Definitely inspirational.

devadia - Let's try this together!

saef
- You are so right. Really right. I actually got a Masters degree in Neuroscience, so ... yes, body map rewiring takes a lot of time, and a lot of practice. A lot of practice. (Incidentally, I think one of the things that will help is doing more clearly body-conscious 'exercise', like yoga or tai chi, where the focus is on feeling your body - I went to a couple of yoga classes, but I've yet to really enjoy it). I think one of the things that'll help me actually is focusing on how my body _looks_ rather than thinking about my weight in kgs or lbs. As I said, with effort, I can come to appreciate the way my body looks, so maybe the key is to just put in more conscious effort - like you said, pictures, measurements, reflection.

You're also right about "I'm fat" meaning so much more than just "I think I am carrying excess adipose tissue". It's a plethora of negative connotations that I don't even recall consciously picking up anywhere (societal conditioning, I presume? ...).

I also think there's wisdom in comparing yourself against other versions of "you" instead of other people. No, I won't grow magically bigger breasts, no, my legs won't be longer, no, my waist cannot physically be 24 inches - but so what? I've got what I've got, and I'm making the best of it. I believe that has to do with being more equinanimous with respect to the things you can't change, yet celebrating the things you can (and do) work on.

CherryPie99 - Jen, you've got it nailed down - as many of us, I think I've also fallen prey to the misconception that once I'm thin, I'll be magically pretty. Kind of a ridiculous concept, if you think about it ... but hey, that's that error-prone, muddling through, totally-not-prepared-for-modernity "brain" of mine I think we can both learn from what lin43 had to say!

lin43
- Thank you for sharing your insights. That's a beautiful poem, too. I think I get what you're describing - I too want to be relieved of the pressure and the obsession of beauty. I don't want to think about it every day, I don't want to spend my showers ruminating over how much I weighed that day, and if that number was "low enough", I don't want my conversations with people to be all about superficial crap like looks - I want to have a certain positive levity attitude when it comes to my body. You know what I mean? I want to be grateful for my body, I want it to be healthy, I want myself to be happy thinking about it - but I don't want it to occupy so much of my attention. It's kind of ironic that I would say this after dissecting topics of appearance at length on this forum, but I believe that reflected obsession might be the ladder I can toss out some day after I used it.

Don't be ashamed of your old behavior - I'm pretty certain that a lot of women are doing exactly that - seizing up other women. I do it too, and that's also one of the things I wish I wouldn't do.

Quote:
Now, I genuinely recognize someone's physical beauty and can even point it out to my husband, and it's in a completely objective, non-competitive way. I recognize my flaws, but I feel confident in who I am right now.
I'm so glad you can do this I'll join you there one day.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:05 PM   #12
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I have reduced weight over the past year. I constantly have to remind myself I am not fat. I am 8lbs above BMI maximum of normal weight but I am still amazed when I fit into a fast food plastic booth without wedging myself. It takes my breath away each time when I can put down the plastic tray and sit all in one motion. I bought myself a Duran Duran concert t-shirt off ebay and when I held it up I thought !@#$% this won't fit. Not only did it fit I had room to spare. I believe the mental snapshot concept above and I think it may be quite awhile before self actualization changes.
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:32 PM   #13
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What sometimes gives me the rein-check on my negative body image is to see a photo of myself when I "thought" I was fat. I went through the old family photos the last 2 days and was shocked. After I had my only child 22 years ago I was model lovely (not over thin) - I never saw it, never got any outside props for it. I kept the photo out to remind myself. Today I am not that slender but I am still way way less heavy- in fact I think - dare I say it - I look "normal"
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:15 PM   #14
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Lately I think I must have been losing weight on my thighs and belly because I've suddenly realized I can easily bend my knees all the way (so my heels are touching my butt), I can cross my legs and it's actually comfortable, and when seated I can bend over and rest my forehead on my knees and not feel like I'm not able to breathe and crushing myself. These were all things that I saw people do but were very uncomfortable for me and I just assumed they were uncomfortable for everyone. So it's been really weird realizing how much more flexible I am.

I also sometimes catch a glance of my thigh when I'm getting up, putting on a shoe, or in some other position where my leg is raised or bent, and am slightly shocked at how thin it looks. It's not model slender but for a brief moment I can't believe it's my own leg I'm looking at, because I'm so used to them being pretty hefty. (I've always had relative thunder thighs, and I still carry most of the weight I have left to lose there.)

Despite all this, when I look in the mirror, I still feel weirdly fat. My thighs and legs are still definitely fat. My belly is now more or less not bulgy but still has some fat. So I look at my height/weight ratio, and my newfound flexibility, and then at what I see in the mirror, and I struggle to figure out how much fat is really there and how much is in my head.

I also find myself wondering sometimes - do other people think I look fat or do I look average? Not people I know, but just a random passer-by, what would be their response if asked? It doesn't really matter to me in terms of worrying about what every stranger on the street thinks, but more that it feels like the most objective test, from someone who doesn't know me and has only seen me at this weight and doesn't have some past image of me at a higher weight superimposed on their brain.

Anyway... nothing helpful other than I think I understand.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:52 PM   #15
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It took me a long, long time to buy clothes that actually fit my frame. I was so comfortable in baggy clothes. As a guy, I could kinda get away with that. But over time, folks like my sister would say, "You are not a 35-year old rapper, memememe76--buy smaller clothes!" So, now I do.

I don't ever buy clothes online. But when I register for a race (I've been doing 10ks and half marathons) and there's a shirt and they ask for your size, I have so far chosen a medium when I really should be choosing a small. The unknown sucks! I will see what I choose when I register for another race (I am planning to do one more half in October).
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