Are you a woman fighting off a fat and ugly self image? When bathing suit season rolls ’round, would you rather die than bear your thighs? Locked in a clinch with your lover, is “Lights off, Honey” your mantra? That may mean that you’re really uncomfortable with your body. You’re not alone.

Many women struggle with a negative body image. Because there are a lot of gals unhappy with their bodies, the diet industry is getting increasingly fatter, earning upwards of $60B/yr. That’s because the diet organizations make money when they succeed at making you feel fat and insecure.

Are you among the majority of the frustrated four?

When you look in the mirror, do you love what you see? Research shows that nearly 4 out 5 American women today say they hate their bodies. That’s 80% of the female population in the entire United States. Are you among the majority of the frustrated 4?

Why You Can’t See Yourself As You Really Are

The truth is we don’t really see ourselves and our bodies as we are, or even as others see us, because we’re only seeing our interpretation of reality, not what’s really there, because we’re unable to objectively observe ourselves. Our perceptions are colored or filtered by our experiences. If your family was a blue family, you were given “blue glasses.” If your family and your experiences are of being a part of a rosy bunch, you’ve been looking at the world through “rose colored glasses”.

We’re all different according to how our experiences have shaped us. Our brains are always making meaning out of everything we experience. The important thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter through which color glasses you’ve been experiencing the world; it’s just a starting point. You don’t have to remain stuck with those faulty perceptions. It may be time for an upgrade.

Self Image: The Mirror In Your Mind

Inside of each us we have the equivalent of a huge computer that stores all our life’s experiences, in your memory. This is known as the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is not an actual part of your brain, rather it is said to be present in every cell in your body. This data base in you holds a collection of beliefs and experience that is known as your self image. It determines how you feel about who you are, your body, your life and everything you believe to be possible.

To be happy, really happy and to live a satisfying life, you have to have an adequate and realistic self image with which you can live harmoniously. You have to be okay enough for you. This will give you a good strong sense of self esteem. This is an image of yourself that you can trust and believe in, like and admire, respect and honor.

When your self image is intact, you feel good and you’re a secure person. When something happens to shake you up or threaten you, you become insecure. If you’ve been abused or hurt, criticized, or teased, you may still feel the impact of that emotional pain, depending upon what meaning you gave the experience, you may tend to feel shame and find yourself hiding your light. That’s only because that feels like the safest option for you.

If you’re caught in a body trap, hating some part of you, it’s because you believe that you are this negative, shameful, disgusting, unworthy, fat, ugly, stupid or incapable image that you may hold of yourself. It’s not true!

And unless you are actually able to see yourself differently, no diet, no exercise, no amount of compliments or anything else will make you believe something that a part of you is not ready to believe. In order to change these negative core beliefs that limit you, and feel different about your body, without doing anything radical like cosmetic surgery or dieting, you have to change the image that you have inside of you. The good news is that this self image or subconscious mind is completely impersonal and impartial to the information it holds. So if you don’t like the way you look or the way you feel about your body, all you have to do is steer your subconscious mind or self image in a new direction.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Plastic Surgeon Performs Facelifts without Scalpel

This incredible discovery of the power of the self image and the scope of its influence, is credited to the work of one man, Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1960’s. At 61 years old, he wrote his first book called Psycho Cybernetics, which went on to become a self improvement phenomenon, selling over 30 million copies to date. Today you can’t pick up a self improvement book or program that doesn’t draw upon his ground breaking discoveries teaching how to change a negative self image. Maltz said, “the self image is changed, for better or worse, not by intellect alone, nor by intellectual knowledge, but by “experiencing.”

That means that in order for you to think and feel differently about your body, you have to start being able to ‘see’ yourself doing things differently.

At the core, his ideas focus on visualizing your goals. It’s truly the secret behind “The Secret.” Here’s the origin of how this all came about. Before he wrote Psycho Cybernetics, Dr. Maltz noticed that many times after a cosmetic procedure was performed successfully, his patients would continue to obsess about their imperfections that they had agreed were already well corrected.

After examining many cases, he noticed a parallel. Each of those patients who felt that cosmetic surgery did nothing for them, had very low self esteem. They felt that deep down there was nothing that could be done to correct their flaws. One day Dr. Maltz had a brainstorm and realized that what they needed was a perception correction. He made a deal with one of his clients named Jack, who was obsessing about his crooked nose. Dr. Maltz said that he would not consent to operating on Jack again until Jack took an interim step. Dr. Maltz offered to teach Jack how to re-create his distorted self image, using a process of visualization. He explained that it would take 21 consecutive days to complete the process. After that time, if Jack was still unsatisfied, Dr. Maltz would do the surgery.

At the end of the 21 days, Jack was so happy with his nose that he didn’t even want the surgery.

So Many Sighs Over My Big Fat Thighs

In my experience, before I made the decision to stop dieting, I spent years obsessing about the size of my thighs. No matter what size I was, I swore that I must have had the biggest thighs in the world. No amount of weight loss or exercise was enough to alter my distorted perception of my body.

When I finally decided to stop dieting, because I had an image of myself as being a fat pig with no self control around food, I lost all control, could never seem to stop eating and gained 35 pounds.

One day standing, looking at my fat self in the mirror, I had an epiphany and realized that I had to either accept me and my thighs the way they were, or continue living a crazy life hoping and praying that dieting and exercising would change them. I knew that I could never again continue to live under the tyranny of dieting, so the alternative was to learn to love myself now. Because I made that choice, I now know for certain that the problem was never the size of my thighs. It was all in my head. It was the low self esteem and poor self image that I carried around with me on a daily basis. It was those angry thoughts, those nasty words and criticisms that had been shouted at me as a kid.

Because those memories were so emotionally charged, each time I looked in the mirror or was reminded of anything to do with how I felt about my body, those tapes got replayed in my mind and I became my own worst critic.

That angry voice that had become my own was why I couldn’t stop eating. I knew that I had to change the way that I spoke to myself and find some compassion and gentleness within. It started with making the decision to stop dieting and a vow that I would learn how to trust myself again.

Today now that I’m no longer worried about following a diet or watching my weight, and I know that I can trust myself around any and all foods, I have more respect and appreciation for myself as I am: Andrea, the person. Food is no longer my master and I’m not its slave anymore. As I continue to make strides to make friends with and love my body at any size, I’m noticing that it keeps on shrinking and getting smaller. I’m not trying to lose weight. I just am –and I’m doing it in the least invasive way possible.

I love knowing that I can have cookies, potato chips, ice cream and pasta in my home and be surrounded by tons of goodies and not feel the urge to eat them when I’m not hungry. I love having the sense of power that comes with being able to put a bag clip on my potato chips and put them back in the cabinet, knowing that I don’t want to continue eating them anymore and they will be there for later. And on the rarer and rarer occasions when I do eat either a little more or waaaaaaaay more than my body wants, I know that it’s not a cause for beating myself up, feeling disgusted or blaming because I haven’t done anything wrong. No forgiveness necessary.

When I do overeat, it’s merely an indication to me that something deeper is hurting. And by taking care of that, discovering what it is, handling those hurts, and treating myself in the most loving and gentle way possible, the desire to abuse myself with food disappears.

Let me tell you everything that I’ve learned along the way. I’m bursting with information that I want to teach you. Let me help you get started on your way to embrace some new non diet thinking so that you, too can begin loving your thighs or any other part of you at any size.

Here are some tips to help you makeover a fat and ugly self image:

1. Watch body affirming TV Television shows like Lifetime’s How to Look Good Naked is an instant mood lifter. Hosted by Carson Kressley, former co-host of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Carson focuses on helping women move from hating their bodies to loving them. I like to think of it as a 60 minute self image makeover. With Carson at the helm, you’ll cry tears of laughter as you learn to see your body in a more loving, compassionate light.

2. Seek out role models Find a woman who has the same body type as you, and is already doing what you want to do. If you hate your thighs and wish that you could feel comfortable going to the beach and wearing a bathing suit, find a woman who already is doing that and request her permission to ask her a few questions. Tell her that you don’t feel comfortable, and you really want to understand how to think more like her so that you can like your body more. Ask her what makes her feel comfortable? What does she think of when she is on the beach? What motivates her and any other questions that you may have.

3. Get support Spend time around other women who are also committed to appreciating their bodies.

4. Study role models Read books about women shaped like you who like their bodies. This is a less assertive but nonetheless an effective way of achieving the same goal as actually talking to another woman and asking her questions.

5. Stop Scale Watching Don’t let anyone or anything tell you how you are entitled to feel. Step away from the scale. Put it away or toss it out. Stop judging yourself by that nasty piece of sheet metal.

Lastly, and most important — You, are not your thighs, butt, frizzy hair or droopy breasts or any other miscellaneous body part. You are so much more than what you see. Start to imagine seeing yourself as you want to be, when you are the size you choose, and rather than focusing on dieting, eating less, or doing anything to actually make that happen, just do the things you would do if you were that gal. You, go Juicy Woman! I believe in you! Do you?

Maxwell Maltz, Psycho Cybernetics, self esteem, self image