How To: Build a Positive Self Image

A positive self-image is tangible, worth it, and freeing. It is also necessary. We all know women have an uphill battle to a positive self-image in today’s society. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. The “solutions” that have been normalized for our millennial minds have become fad diets without sustainable health, starving ourselves for the next event and outfit, too many double-takes in the mirror, wearing waist trainers, obsessing over unrealistic body “ideals,” and unending discontentment and dissatisfaction. Much of what is “in” comes down to finding fulfillment in things that leave us empty and insecurity in how we look. Although standing against such things may be against the grain or harder, there are better ways to feed our minds to determine what we feed our bodies.

Here are a few reminders and tips to keep a consistent positive self-image throughout one of our most challenging seasons- college.

Social media

Add some more positivity and non-overly edited accounts to your feed (maybe an encouraging word-gram or women who empower you for internal reasons).

Reminder: some people are just naturally blessed with good genes.

An hour of taking and editing the perfect pic could be spent in a more productive way. Be mindful of how celebrities promoting their bodies, detoxes and quick fixes make us feel. Focus on your best you… That likely looks different than your “girl-crush” or friend. Sometimes we’re unaware, but what we choose to feed our minds in down time can have a huge impact in the long-run. We can be influenced by unrealistic standards and chase them endlessly in hopes of making it our reality.

Friends

Friends are a crucial aspect of our college experiences. My best advice is to surround yourself with those who will tell you the truth and lift you up when necessary. We all dream of these types of friends. They exist! Whether it’s your committed gym partner, accountability friend, or your encourager, it’s all necessary. Feeding your mind to a positive self-image positively comes from who you surround yourself with, too.

Food

This is huge: Do not feel guilty.

We’re not going to have the perfect diet just as we are not going to have the perfect body. That’s not a pessimistic statement, that’s a real statement. If there’s only one definition of a “perfect bod,” no one would ever be content in this whole world- that’s pessimistic.

Eating out is huge in college, and campus food is not what’s up. It's an unfortunate truth, but we have to understand that circumstances are never going to be ideal to eat “perfectly” all the time. That’s the reality of practically everything, especially college. Truly, if you’re eating healthy (nutrition and quantity) please do not beat yourself up about what results, or lack thereof you have. Be content with what you have, and remain committed to work for a positive body image.

Books

You’re not alone… These books granted my freedom to a positive self-image. I haven’t experienced anything severe with self/body image, but the tendency to feel self-conscious about my body, from my face, to size, to attraction, used to cross my mind often. I knew this issue is necessary to counteract and way too present to ignore.

Body image and self-image definitely still cross my mind from time to time, but how can it not in this society? These books enabled me to overcome those temptations and eliminate the root of where negativity of myself was coming from. Implementing positive self-image is a work in progress… but I’m encouraged, and my self-image is made positive by a proper mental diet.

  1. Beautiful you, a Daily Guide to a Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary
  2. Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth
  3. The Gifts of Imperfections: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Basic Tips

  • Write a sticky note to put on your mirror, with a positive quote or reminder to appreciate yourself.
  • Distinguish who or what is encouraging you, versus taking away from your best you.
  • Talk to someone about it.  
  • Make a friend with similar goals as you.
  • Don’t be hesitant or slow to try any advice listed above. No shame, and you won’t regret it!
  • Remain consistent and committed.

My dad, a blunt New Yorker from Queens, always told me, “play in the skin you’re in.” He said this when I was too concerned about what people thought. Fighting negativity in life is tough and real. You can’t fake the feeling, and, sadly, it leaks into how we see ourselves a lot of the time.

“Play in the skin you’re in” was my dad’s way of saying “be the best you.”

What my dad said was correction, but it stuck with me as encouragement. Perhaps, we should take what society feeds our minds about body image as encouragement, rather than correction.

Women truly need encouragement. We can’t control much of what the world has to offer, but we can control what we feed our minds. Having and maintaining a positive self-image means feeding our minds encouragement and knowing when correction is necessary. It’s easy to compare ourselves amongst one another when there’s a specific image of beauty and success being fed to us. Let’s remember there’s power in choosing to appreciate ourselves in ALL ways.