Somehow, starting who knows how long ago, an annoying voice set up a rent-free space in your brain and began its full-time job: yacking at you about everything that it doesn’t deem to be “perfect” and about everything that could be “changed” to make you “prettier,” “happier” and “more worthy.” And it’s hard not to listen to it. It commands attention every time you look in the mirror and whenever you’re scrolling through social media, comparing yourself to someone else’s highlight reel.
But that voice doesn’t deserve power anymore. It doesn’t deserve to be listened to. It’s time to replace it with a voice that’s stronger and more loving.
Body positivity is a movement that unites us in recognizing that all bodies are of value and worthy of praise and celebration. It’s about loving and caring for yourself, and uplifting others in the same pursuit. The movement also challenges the notion that there’s one “perfect” body form. We’re all invited to redefine beauty so that it captures the entire range of what makes each of us unique and beautiful.
Choosing to become body positive doesn’t have to turn into a daunting journey you embark on — it can be fueled by small things you do daily. Rather than striving for perfection, it can be about striving for progress.
On that note, here are some token habits you can start doing to fill up with some body-positive goodness:
1. Repeat mantras to yourself
This may seem silly when you first try it, but repeating positive affirmations to yourself, especially while looking in the mirror, can revolutionize your mindset and how you see yourself. The messages we tell ourselves are what manifest in reality; what we think, we become. Tell yourself I’m young and beautiful, right here, right now, or I was born in this body for a reason, or I see beauty everywhere I look, and I see it right now.
“You have a mind, a heart and a creative spirit. You’re in control and can create the life you dream,” says founder of EMPOWERED and creator of FITWeek Emily Cook Harris. Check out some more powerful mantras here.
2. Do more of the things that make you happy
Doing the things that bring you joy, no matter how small or quirky they may be, puts you in a zone where you’re not thinking about anything else but the task at hand. You become confident in what you’re doing, and the fact that you’re doing it for yourself raises self-esteem. You’re so much more than just an image; you’re a walking embodiment of passion for the things you care about, and that’s what stops others in their tracks. Like the wise Emma Stone once said, “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.”
3. Get your yoga on
Yoga is magical. It makes you more aware of your body and by the end of it, you’re left with this feeling of self-love and gratitude that’s priceless. Even if you have time to do only a couple of stretches and poses, throw on a relaxing Spotify playlist (We recommend “Relax & Focus”) and do it! You’d be surprised by how strong and flexible your body is, and how it serves to function for you, rather than being an aspect that gets in your way. “I’ve recently just started yoga and I’m focusing it on bringing more positivity into my life,” says Ashley Drayton, a graduate of Georgia State University. “I’m learning that having time for myself every day and paying attention to my body goes a long way.”
4. Sprinkle love and compliments wherever you go
Yes, we’re aware of how cheesy that sounds, but it’s so underrated. Complimenting others requires us to look for the good in them, and in doing so, we start to see the good in ourselves, too. Be a source of positivity for others, and spread those good vibes! They’ll come right back around to you.
And the same goes for complimenting yourself as well! “Something I love to do every year is come up with one physical aspect of my body that I love every month,” says Emmanuel University senior Autumn Dube. “Whether it’s my hair, booty, or smile, I dedicate that month to focusing on loving that part of myself.”
5. Instead of judging your body for what it looks like, thank it for all it does for you
Finding flaws in the mirror is easy, but what gives you real strength, power and ownership of all you got goin’ on is when you can turn that around and focus on how amazing your body actually is. Acknowledge that your body is here to serve you, and recognize just how blessed you are to be housed in it. “I love to focus on what my body can do and accomplish, instead of how I wish it looked. For example, instead of thinking ‘I wish I had smaller thighs,’ I think, ‘My thighs let me run five miles,’” James Madison University senior Molly Crum says.
So trust your body – it’s not out to get you. Love it and listen to it. “By focusing on daily actions of self-love and health, you begin to love your body on a deeper level because you’re taking care of it,” says Emily Cook Harris. “If your friend was sick, you’d take care of them. Have that same love towards yourself. Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.”
6. Collect and surround yourself with inspirational body-positive messages
Post little notes around your room, follow motivational accounts on social media and collect uplifting quotes and articles! Surround yourself with positivity on a daily basis, and you’ll start to see it within yourself and all around. Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author Carole Lieberman, M.D. also recommends “putting photos on your wall of women who have achieved great success, despite not looking like Barbie.”
7. Get rid of your scale, and track your actions instead
“I love my scale! It makes me feel great!”… said no one ever. “The scale is a confidence thief, and it’s not giving you the whole story. All it’s showing you is your relationship to gravity. The body is made up of bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, cells, arteries, veins, blood and more… Why are we weighing all this?!” says Emily Cook Harris. “Focus less on the aesthetics and more on the actions. Track those. Celebrate those. When we give away our power to the “outcome” or the “result” we are missing out on the power in what we can do now.” So limit the power you give to numbers on a scale and instead, give power to yourself. Be proud and excited about all that you’re doing to get yourself closer to your goal.
Just for a second, take a moment to think about what the older version of yourself would be telling you if she was sitting across from you right now. She’d probably be gleaming with pride, seeing you take the steps toward owning the strong, fierce, beautiful human that you are, always have been and always will be. Life gives you keys to unlock parts of yourself you didn’t know were there. Maybe this journey of self-love is one of those times.
“You’re a fiery soul, a brilliant mind and a passionate heart in a strong body. Be that girl. And approach your life with that fire.”- Emily Cook Harris