I can safely say that I have not always had good body image, in fact far from it, in the past I suffered with crippling low self esteem and it infected every area of my life. I went from being someone with a few body hang ups, which I managed to cover up with a hearty dose of self depreciation, to someone who felt deeply uncomfortable in my own skin. At its worst it stopped me from going out, wearing nice clothes and feeling like a capable human being. I always slapped a smile on my face and got on with life but privately my self hatred grew and the brunt of this hatred was levelled at my body. The sad fact is I am not alone in this experience, far too many of us feel limited by our bodies or held back by our perceived flaws.
Fast forward five years and I cannot believe how much has changed, I genuinely feel good about myself, the way I look, my capabilities and the person I have become. The interesting thing is physically speaking not much has changed, I have gotten older, perhaps a little squishier and my hair colour is forever changing but essentially here I am in that same body which I loathed. What changed? No miracle diets, gym regimes or plastic surgery required only a change in attitude.
5 simple strategies for becoming body positive
1: Good self care: looking after your body is a great place to begin when starting your journey toward being body positive. Eating well, stimulating your mind, staying active and getting enough rest are the basics and of course there are much more exciting things too, like taking a decadently long bath or surrounding yourself with beautiful things. What works for one person may not work for another so try out a few different approaches. The important thing here is taking the time to do something nice for yourself.
2: Ditch the negative language: make a new rule to ban all the self critical language from your vocabulary. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend or family member odds are you shouldnt say it to yourself. Words are powerful things and they can be very damaging, repeatedly calling yourself ‘disgusting’ ‘stupid’ ‘fat’ ‘pathetic’ etc would make anyone feel horrendous. Its called being body positive for a reason you know.
3: Celebrate everything that you are: and while you’re at it stop beating yourself up about what you are not! You are more than your aesthetic. Why do we measure our self worth on the physical; we are a lot more than just good hair, perfect skin, great teeth or toned bodies. Spend some time thinking about all that you are: a good friend? great parent? funny? kind? talented at something? If you can’t think of anything ask your friends and family chances are they will reel off a list of positives without hesitation.
4: Become a media critic: undoubtedly the media has an impact on our body image and we often measure ourselves against unattainable and unrealistic beauty standards. Magazines, TV and social media aren’t going anywhere so its important to develop some resilience to the onslaught of ‘perfect’ images we are exposed to. Remind yourself that most commercial photography is carefully lit, engineered by a team of stylists, captured by a professional photographer and photoshopped before you are allowed to set eyes on it. Companies and individuals present the world with their ‘show reel’ and you never get to see what it actually looks like behind the scenes. Models don’t even look like models when you strip away all the gloss and digital manipulation.
5: Practice makes positive!: I view being body positive as a practice which takes work. There will be days when I look in the mirror and think ‘ugh’ and it is these days that I must give myself a metaphorical ‘kick up the bum’ and start doing something positive. Your body is capable of so much and it dutifully carries you through life allowing you to experiencing some amazing things. Focus on the good, try and let go of the bad and always value all that you are. Being body positive can be a steep learning curve but I can recommend the results wholeheartedly.