Perfectionism and your body image


What role does perfectionism play in your life?

As a perfectionist, I know only too well the many ways it adds extra stress and anxiety to life.

And when it comes to your body image, perfectionism can really take its toll.

So in this post, I’m taking a look at perfectionism and its relationship to body image.

Specifically, I’m sharing:

  • The role of perfectionism in increasing body anxiety
  • How perfectionism may be damaging your body image
  • 3 strategies to help you curb perfectionism and improve how you feel about your body.

Watch or read below:


The problem with perfectionism

Would you describe yourself as a perfectionist? Hands up, I’m a recovering perfectionist. I say recovering, because I still struggle to ditch unrealistic standards in some areas of my life.

Many perfectionists will say there is nothing wrong with having high standards (and that was me too once upon a time!).

The problem is, perfectionists don’t just have high standards, they have unattainable standards.

And trying to achieve these standards is a constant source of anxiety for perfectionists.

Body Image and perfectionism

At the height of my body image struggles, I was constantly trying different ways to fix my appearance to make it ‘perfect’.

I now know that perfectionism is a trait that can pre-dispose you to negative body image.

If you’ve got perfectionistic tendencies, being exposed to messages and imagery that encourage you to strive for the ideal body may affect you more than others.

But just because you’re a perfectionist, it doesn’t mean you can’t curb your perfectionism and let some ridiculous standards go.

Strategies to deal with perfectionism

Here are three strategies for you to try, so perfectionism doesn’t derail your body image or any other part of your life:

Remove yourself from the competition

Think about environments, people or groups that advocate being or looking your best at all costs.

These are just going to make life more difficult for you.

As a perfectionist, it’s easy to be competitive, because you want to be the BEST.

What environments or people are fueling your perfectionism?

Give into imperfection

This is one of my favourite strategies, although sometimes one of the hardest!

This is about seeing what happens when you dare to be what you consider to be ‘imperfect’.

My favourite things to do are to go out without any make-up, not to vacuum the house every week (something that was very hard for me NOT to do), and to make a spelling mistake in an email.

Do something imperfect, then see what happens. Nothing! The more you do this, the easier it gets, and perfectionism seems less interesting.

Get some perspective

This is about seeing your expectations from another person’s point of view.

Say that you believe you’re lazy if you don’t exercise 5 days a week (this was one of my beliefs!), you can challenge your view by asking:

How might someone like my best friend view this situation?  Most people wouldn’t see this as lazy at all. Many people can’t manage more than a day a week to exercise and they don’t feel bad about it.

Are there other ways to look at this? So given your schedule, what is a realistic amount of time to exercise? If you’re working every day during the week it might be hard to fit in much time to work out – it doesn’t mean you’re lazy.

What might I tell a close friend who was having similar thoughts?  You’d probably say it’s okay to work out 2-3 days per week, or whatever works with your schedule!

So, there you have it, three strategies to help you deal with perfectionism.

I’d like to end with a quote by Brene Brown from her book, “Gifts of Imperfection”

“The inability to live up to your own standards can result in relentless self-criticism, depression and anxiety.”

So, I ask you, is that what you want for yourself? I don’t want that for you or for me!

I’d love to hear about your perfectionism and the impact it has on your life.  Please leave me a comment below.

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