Why is it that every selfie on your Facebook and Instagram feed looks like a lineup of personal trainers, outdoorsy folk and beach bunnies? We can’t all be beautiful, can we? Wait, it gets worse. Sprinkled in are ads for skin creams, weight management shakes, hair restoration, cosmetic procedures and butt lifting yoga pants.
Oh yes, thanks to smartphones and selfie culture, we are all online being bombarded and obsessing over physical appearance—especially our own. Well, according to the experts on self esteem and beauty, it’s time to lighten up. Are you thinking about what you look like way too much for your own good? We all want to look great in photos, but then there those common obsessive thoughts and actions about physical appearance that aren’t healthy. So read on to see if you’re getting too physically obsessed and if so, what you can do about it.
Stop Stressing! 5 Ways to Look Great in Way Less Time
1. “It takes me an hour and 5 outfit changes before I can leave the house.”
WHY IT HAPPENS: When you find it difficult to commit to an outfit choice and rapidly change outfits only to look in the mirror thinking everything looks terrible, there is certainly heightened anxiety taking place, and the problem isn’t the clothes. The problem is self-perception and mindset. The better you feel about yourself from the inside and the more positive things you have in your life to be appreciative of, the less time you will spend on clothing choices. You’ll know exactly what you want to wear and you’ll be more than satisfied with your choice.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: The solution? Train your mind to decide and stick to the style decision by setting an alarm for 5 minutes to brainstorm 2 options. Focus on where you are going and the positive aspects of the anticipated experience to shift the mind off your physical appearance.
2. “I can’t pass a reflective surface without checking myself in it.”
WHY IT HAPPENS: If you’re checking yourself out thinking, you look fantastic and swiftly continue to walk on that’s normal, fine, and even healthy. However, if you are thinking, you need to lose weight, that you have a double chin, that you look old, that your hair is terrible, then you’re beating yourself up and are focused on unattainable perfection.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Our bodies will change and we will age. This is a fact of life. Exercising for as little as 20 minutes per day, eating healthily, walking, reading and meditation are all things that are beneficial to us. When we make how we feel top priority, we start to look good. We’re more radiant, smiling, and have higher, more positive energy.
3. “I never can leave the house without make-up.”
WHY IT HAPPENS: This is a tough one and common for a lot of women. We all want that fresh faced, gorgeous without trying look. Very few women past puberty can achieve it. There’s a difference between the level of self-consciousness between a woman who takes 10 minutes to put on some moisturizing foundation, mascara and lip gloss and someone who must spend an hour a full face of make-up perfectly applied.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Getting monthly facials and educating yourself on different make up formulations can help you cut down on the amount of make-up needed. This could shorten the time it takes getting glammed up.
4. “I constantly compare myself to others on social media, in magazines, in public.”
WHY IT HAPPENS: Commenting on physical appearance says comparison mindset is incredibly common. It is unreasonable to compare yourself to a celebrity as they have a team of trainers and stylists that help them achieve and maintain a certain desired look. Today people see their high school friend on social media with the perfect breasts and they want that same look. People are really comparing themselves to everyone now.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Taking breaks from social media and doing body strengthening and range of motion exercises that also weave in breathing and mindfulness such as yoga or tai chi. When you are aware of your body’s strength and your general well-being, you’re not going to compare yourself to others. When you’re too busy enjoying a happy, healthy, you won’t care if your thighs are less toned than someone else’s.
5. “I have a list of cosmetic procedures I want to do and am planning to do this year!”
WHY IT HAPPENS: This is when we must be mindful of body dysmorphia. When we have a distorted perception of our appearance it can lead to an addiction to cosmetic procedures. It is very important for cosmetic surgeons to screen people to see if they have signs of body dysmorphia. Ethically, when someone comes in with a list of flaws they want to fix, it is up to us professionals to advise them appropriately. When someone is addicted to surgeries and tries to “fix” the same body part repeatedly, that’s a red flag.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Keep an “appreciation journal” and write down 10 things you appreciate about yourself and your life. This will lessen harsh self-criticism and the need to measure up to any physical ideal.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services. Dr. Kirk Brandow, a plastic surgeon with practices in the Philadelphia metro area, is a trusted expert who has developed many innovative, minimally invasive procedures for the face, body and skin.