Ginger with leaves

Revising Your Self-Portrait

Revising Your Self-Portrait

If you missed part 1, or part 2 of this series, click here
Last week, we discussed how the second step toward enjoying your body is to cut through any dissatisfaction or distortion and get real about it.

This week, let’s use the information you learned about yourself last week to revise your self-portrait.

Now it’s time to revise your list (from last week’s exercise) to create a more accurate image—and, if you’re willing to stretch your mind, a more positive one. This next step may sound a little far-fetched, or like too much work. The truth is, it can be surprisingly instructive. If it sounds like fun, try it. If not, read through and simply imagine doing it—maybe you’ll get curious and want to try it for real.

Begin by taking several large sheets of newsprint or strips from a roll of butcher paper and taping them to the wall. They should cover an area at least as wide and high as your body. Remove as much of your clothing as is convenient; then, with your back to the wall, trace your body with a wide-tipped marker. Trace as close to your body as you can for accuracy. (With a little care, you can do this by yourself, although you might find it easier to do this exercise with a friend.)

The impact of the tracing comes from the fact that it’s not the familiar mirror reflection that we look at every day without really seeing. The traced image is novel. It doesn’t move; therefore, it allows you to step back and view it objectively.

Now spend some time looking at the proportions of your body tracing. That’s you! Does it seem “too” anything? What impression would you have of a person with this shape? Would it be the same you’ve been carrying of yourself? Or does it seem like a reasonable size and shape for someone to be?

Next, with your list in hand, revise your negative items, this time writing your comments directly onto your image on the wall.

Remember, the problem lies not in having weaknesses or flaws; the problem is in “the ways in which you use your weaknesses for destructive self-attacks.” So this time, try to find ways to describe your weaknesses without disparaging or downgrading.