Positive body image means loving ourselves as we are now, even if we also wish to make changes to our outer appearance.
Brooklyn resident Matt Diaz embodies this positive body image message.
After losing half his body weight, Diaz had an excess amount of skin. Always a promoter of healthy body image, he felt to be truly honest with the world that he needed to show what lay beneath his incredible transformation.
Diaz posted video of what he looks like now and requested people donate to a fund to help him afford the excess skin removal surgery. He will now be able to afford the surgery thanks to the positive turnout from strangers ready to support him.
He explains that although he does want surgery to fix the skin issue, it is not that he does not love himself just the way he is.
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to change things," Diaz said. "I refuse to hate my body. I just want to be better."
This is a message that oftentimes is hard to understand, but is so vital to "get" as we seek to move to a new way of viewing our own selves.
I remember one yoga client I had who struggled with her weight her entire life. Her main reason for working with me and trying yoga was to get rid of her excess belly weight.
A drive to improve the way one looks is often the precipitating factor that causes one to begin yoga or any kind of new workout regimen. Of course, we can usually see the positive health benefits, too, but oftentimes, outer appearance is what first motivates us to change.
Unfortunately, that very fact can sometimes make or break whether one will stick with the program and whether one will be improving one's body image or mangling it more in the process.
We can desire to make positive changes, even in our physical appearance, which can sometimes be thought of as being superficial, and still have a positive body image while we're at it.
What I kept stressing to my client, which she had a hard time grasping, as most of us do, is just because we want to change our outer appearance, doesn't mean we can't love how we look right now.
We do not have to lie to ourselves either about what we'd like to change or what we don't like; we can be honest about not liking our cellulite or our muffin top or whatever it is that we are setting out to improve upon.
The attitude that can derail us from improving out body image is when we are angry at ourselves for how we look now, or when we feel that how we look now is something to be fought and railed against.
The key is to recognize that those "imperfections" we see do not make us any less a valuable person.
Positive body image does not mean having a "perfect" body, but rather loving the body we have today, even while we might want to make some changes.