Chrissy Teigen Is a Testament to How Body Image Impacts Our Relationships - Verily
Being ‘cool’ with our bodies can help our romantic lives, too.

Chrissy Teigen is known for her courage to be candid about her real-life struggles in a perfection and image-obsessed world. Last March, she shared her struggle with postpartum depression, and, most recently, she opened up about her own insecurities when it comes to body image and how she owes it to her fans to persist in having positive body image.

“There have been times I've cried to John, where I felt like I would never have 'that' body,” Teigen told her audience last week. "Everyone has a butt now, and curves, and a little waist, and that's not me. . . . I'm jealous of those bodies and I want that, but I also feel like I really want to be cool with my body because of people like you guys [her fans].”

It’s wonderful for Teigen to set the example for the many women who look to her as a standard of beauty. But her determination has another beneficiary—her marriage to singer John Legend. Studies such as one published in the Journal of Family Psychology have found that negative body image can have a negative impact on overall marital satisfaction for both partners. In other words, your dissatisfaction with your body doesn’t just affect you, it also affects your partner.

Here are a couple ways negative body image can influence your relationship and how you can avoid it.

You Assume Your Significant Other Has the Same Negative Image of You

When you aren’t comfortable with your appearance, it’s easy to assume that others, especially your significant other, have the same negative perception about your body. You think your thighs are huge so surely he must think the same thing and count it against you, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately what can happen is that you start to project your negative body image on your partner, too. Why would he want to be with me when there are all these other women out there who are perfect? Thinking like this chips away at your confidence in your relationship and at your trust in your partner. We often have an inaccurate (negative) perception of our appearance, so it can be helpful to share your insecurities with your significant other and ask them to help you understand how they see you. Another good way to counter this? Like Teigen, when you are scrolling through your newsfeed, be mindful of the work that went into the images you see. And, if you need to, unfollow those accounts that are the hardest to deal with. Choose to see yourself as others see you—in a positive and beautiful way.

Lack of Confidence Can Be Unattractive

Remember that study I mentioned earlier, which found negative body image lowers marital satisfaction? Talking about your physical appearance negatively in front of your partner plays a big part in decreasing relationship happiness. I often hear my clients use negative words to describe their appearance like “ugly” and “fat” or they’ll focus on a specific body part that they “hate”. This kind of abuse toward yourself puts your partner in the difficult situation of constantly needing to defend you from yourself. This can be exhausting, discouraging, and even a turn off for your guy. We all want to be with someone who is confident in themselves, and it's no different for men.

While you don’t have to believe you have the most amazing body ever, try to see your body in a positive light. To break this habit, I encourage my clients to use more neutral terms to describe themselves. Instead of seeing your stomach as “fat” or your arms as “flabby,” can you choose to focus on what you do like about your body instead? If that’s still too much of a stretch, try to focus on what your body can do and practice gratitude for that.

Words carry great power. Choose words that will uplift you and not words that will bring you down. When you speak about your body in a positive way, you are building up your relationship rather than tearing it down.

While social media and the beauty industry can give you many reasons to feel like you’ll never measure up to the images you see, embrace Teigen’s healthy dose of realism, and avoid buying into negative body image for your sake and for the sake of your relationship!

Photo via Glamour