I’m going to start off by saying that, like most women, I’ve never had a positive self-body image. Too often I find myself looking in the mirror, naked, and cringing at what I see in the reflection. Too often I find myself criticizing the size of my nose, the thickness of my thighs, the blemishes and spots on my face. Too often I find something to not like about myself—and this is wrong.
Loving my body proves to be a continuous uphill battle: sometimes I can take it with stride and other times I find myself crawling on all fours, drained and exhausted. I know that I will always have my good and bad days—just like anyone else—but it has come to my attention that I need to spend more time focusing on myself; I spend too much time trying to make everyone else around me happy, and as a consequence, my own self-love and happiness suffers.
I hear about so many inspiring self-love journeys. At this point in my life, I know who I am as an individual and what I want out of life. I feel confident in my abilities and capabilities, and I know that I will achieve anything I set my mind to. So for me, my self-love journey is purely a physical one as I try to love and appreciate my body for what it is.
For those people who are on a similar journey, here are some tips to help you along the way:
1. Stay away from social media!
Social media is a dangerous thing. I don’t know about you, but it seems that everytime I open up my Instagram page every post consists of men and women with incredible physiques. The most popular trend involves people posting body transformation photos; for me, these are the worst. While I tip my hat off to those people putting so much work into their bodies, it also gives me a lot of anxiety around my own body. It’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies are different! Comparing your body to other body types is unhealthy and can have negative effects on an already poor body image. So, my advice to you is to avoid social media if you can, because let’s be honest, it isn’t a positive influence on your life in most cases.
2. Do what makes you happy.
Having a positive mentality can lead to a positive outlook on not only your life experiences, but also on your physical state of being. For me, I love to read: when I have a good book in my hands, everything seems right with the world, including my body image. There’s something about doing the things you love that make you an overall happier person, which means you won’t feel so inclined to criticize yourself. At least, that’s how I look at it. Allowing negative things to take over your life is only going to have a negative impact on the way you see yourself as a person—both physically and mentally. So do the things that make you happiest, because the effects will reflect in the perceptions you have of yourself.
3. Compliment yourself.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and gave yourself a compliment? Try doing this at least once a day. Building a positive body image starts with having positive thoughts. Soon enough, complimenting yourself will become easier and easier, and you’ll realize just how many things there are to love about you. To further challenge yourself, try to find the good in the bad; that is, try to love the thing you dislike the most about yourself. Try to look at yourself with a fresh, positive perspective: if you were a stranger looking at you, what would you think? What would you notice? It’s an interesting experiment, but also a positive one.
4. Participate in physical activity.
I personally don’t really like going to the gym, but taking part in physical activities really does have a strong impact on your mental and physical health. Personally, I enjoy Pilates and dancing. I find myself getting caught up in school, work, friends, family events and exhaustion to the point that I neglect working out or doing other activities. But when I do find the time to go to the gym to use the elliptical or to do Pilates in my basement, I always feel amazing afterwards. I find myself looking in the mirror, thinking, “Yeah, I feel and look good.” Try finding that one activity you really enjoy and make time for it—you might be surprised by the results.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
When you’re on a self-love journey, it’s important that you surround yourself with people who are a positive influence. You don’t want to be around friends who bring you down and make you doubt yourself, because that will only hinder your progress. Be with the people who remind you how great you are when you can’t see it yourself, because sometimes you’re going to need an extra boost.