Body image

Three steps to check in on body checking

Navigating body checking begins with awareness. Try these three steps to practice self-compassion instead.

The Flourish team
A woman looking at her body in a mirror while touching her stomach

Have you ever caught yourself checking in on some part of your body?

It may be when you're standing in front of the mirror or maybe taking a shower, but what's happening when you do this? You, or maybe even another person, stepped forward to offer their opinion about how your body looks—to judge.

What's body checking?

Body checking can feel totally natural and normal to us because we've been doing it for so long. It's not shameful or wrong if this is something you do. Our society is obsessed with looks and dieting and exercising, so engaging in body-checking behaviors is just part of our culture's belief system about the way bodies should be.

Body checking is defined as obsessive thinking and behavior around appearance, usually used to judge weight and shape.

Three things you can do to decrease body checking behaviors

The first step to navigating body checking is to gain awareness of when it's happening. Once you've figured that out, try these three steps to help curb the behavior and practice self-compassion instead:

1. Take notice

By becoming more aware of when you're engaging in body checking behaviors, you can begin to identify what triggers these behaviors. Do they happen in certain environments? Was it something someone said? A feeling that came up? Or was it just an automatic behavior? Try to get to the root cause of why you feel the need to look at your body or weigh yourself during these times.

2. Create a plan

Come up with a list of things you can do instead of body checking as an alternative coping skill to soothe your anxiety. If quitting cold turkey sounds unrealistic, begin by setting goals around reducing how often you body check.

3. Challenge your thoughts

When you start to feel anxious and have the urge to check your appearance in the mirror or on the scale, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself if they're really accurate and helpful. "What do I long for right now?" Is it safety, confidence, control? Are there other ways for me to accomplish that feeling? These questions are designed to help you change your perspective about what's going on and put your worries into perspective.

These suggestions require a bit of personal work on your part, but you have the tools to navigate this experience. Give yourself some space to just breathe and not beat yourself up for body checking—it's okay to notice what's happening, but try not to react so strongly by punishing yourself. Instead, treat yourself kindly and try using one of the three steps listed above to help you practice self-care. If you want to support getting started, begin our free course on the four components of body image to shift towards an attitude of body respect.

Headshot of Claire Siegel
Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.
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