A life time hating one’s body – Not the best way to spend your time. But there are so many women who do this exact thing every day of their life.
Is it possible to have a healthy body image in today’s world?
You open a magazine or newspaper center spread or your Instagram feed – they are all full of reed thin hanger bodies or digitally enhanced or surgically enhanced people. Everyone else (except you, your buddies and your mom) is perfect – perfect home, perfect clothes, perfect places, perfect body.
Seeing this everyday and comparing- Not good for one’s soul, I tell you. We end up thinking of our body as some thing to be improved upon every single second ; Striving for that impossible ideal. Is it necessary ?
Other than chucking out one’s phone out the window or resolve to never read a fashion magazine again, what do a normal girl with a normal body do?
Practice these A’s to ace the Body Positivity challenge
- 1 Accept yourself
- 2 Allow yourself to dress for yourself
- 3 Admit to yourself that size is just a number
- 4 Avoid situations that demean you based on body
- 5 Aim to be healthy
- 6 Address your body positivity attitudes
- 7 Accept compliments
- 8 Admire and emulate Body positivity icons
- 9 Acknowledge mental health issues and seek help
- 10 Adopt Self love practices every day
1 Accept yourself
You are a sum total of many things – your unique personality, your opinions, your attitudes, your thinking, your habits, your expressions and body language, your manners AND your body. Accept yourself as you are and try to accept that you are as tall or short or curvy or skinny as you are and go from there.
Do not concentrate on the aspects you lack; rather focus on what you have. Tell nice things about yourself to yourself.
“Happiness comes easier when you stop complaining about your problem and start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have”.
2 Allow yourself to dress for yourself
When you have accepted yourself and do not want to match an industry standard, decide on a style that suits you. Be confident in your own skin and build from there. But that doesn’t mean sloppy dressing. Good dressing style begets respect and standing.
Appearance of human body can be changed with clothing. If you desire to appear in a certain way, there are ways of dressing that can achieve all that and a lot more. You can dress according to your body shape, your fashion attitude , the fashion style you like, trend of the moment. You can try to camouflage or show off or do whatever – so long as they are done with a positive mindset. Aim to feel good about yourself rather than meeting some one else’s ideal. Dress for your size rather than squeeze yourself into a smaller size.
3 Admit to yourself that size is just a number
The brands are already messing up your minds with these numbers. It is called Vanity sizing. I will explain with my own example.
I bought pants of waist size 30 recently – it was loose. I exchanged it for a 28 inch waist. That was loose too. 26 size turned out to be loose too. Now do I go for a 24 size one? I am not 24 inches around my waist even in my imagination.
But it does feel good that I need a 24 inch pants. Vanity sizing is the attempt of brands to change the sizing numbers of their products to make the customer ‘feel’ thinner. When I wear a 24 inch size pants I do not go down in size but in my mind it does and I love the brand forever. But you are falling into other people’s categories and their make believe world.
Whatever happens in this life, 85% of it does so in your head. So if you think of your size as just a number and count or discount it so, you will be better off. So if you are size 10 or size 17, it is all in your head. Confidence and self acceptance is all that counts.
4 Avoid situations that demean you based on body
Accepting yourself is fine but there are people who do not let us be whatever we are. There are those who comment on your body every single time they meet you. And there is this scrutinizing from the others on social media regarding our own body as if it is anyone else’s concern but ours. Avoid all of them like a plague or dismiss them as ignorant beings.
Your body and the way you dress is your prerogative. If you decide to lose weight, good for you.
5 Aim to be healthy
The pressure to lose weight, pressure to be perfect- all these are real. But realize that these have nothing to do with body health. A healthy body makes you live up to 70 years and still jog in the same gym you went at your 20s.
Some other metrics like your cholesterol level, heart rate, insulin level etc. are more important than your body appearance.
You can be thin and unhealthy. You can be fat and unhealthy. Choose to be yourself and be healthy. 30 minutes of walking (at least) everyday does that. And a good balanced diet. And not starving yourself to early grave.
6 Address your body positivity attitudes
Girls dress to impress girls. And girls demean girls the most. So Girls, be kind. If you are slim today, tomorrow after a bout of over active hormones or for any other reason you could end up double your weight – what would you feel if some one dropped the same comment that you are thinking of dropping on that diverse person’s photograph.
Pause before saying anything negative regarding body shapes and size, anywhere, anytime. Say ‘Pause’ to those who do that.
Vow to never comment on other people’s weight and body anywhere, especially negatively and even especially in front of kids. You are spreading negativity and perpetuating a generation of body negativeness when you do that.
7 Accept compliments
A sure fire sign of bad body image is accepting compliments ungraciously. If you react with banal statements like “it’s my new dress” “it’s my new haircut”, when someone compliments you on looking good, it is a sign that you do not value yourself. Take the compliment, savor it, appreciate it for what it is and say thanks .
8 Admire and emulate Body positivity icons
I can name a few such icons – Actress and clothing entrepreneur Melissa Mcarthy, Model Ashley Graham, Model and Entrepreneur Tyra Banks, Tennis Icon Serena Williams, British Model and body positivity advocate Iskra Lawrence, Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, Actress Rebel Wilson. They have all survived and thrived despite many body image negativity (from others). They are all proof that you can be whatever you want to be, whatever your body size.
Article on Insider.com on Ashley Graham here.
9 Acknowledge mental health issues and seek help
If you have low self esteem with poor body image and that is creating problems in your personal life (anger issue, anxiety attacks etc) talk to a professional. Mental health issues need not reach a severe stage for them to be addressed. Counselors have special training to deal with any mentally disturbing thoughts you might have as a result of negativity. around you.
10 Adopt Self love practices every day
You do not have to compare yourself to less than 1% of the population (who meet the body standard ideal) and feel bad about yourself. When you start feeling bad about yourself, you start abusing your body with self harming practices which leads to many unhealthy complications like eating disorders, ulcers.
Practice self care and you will heal from whatever trauma has lead to the negative body image you have right now. Self care can free our minds of the stressors of life and make you love your body like no one else’s.
Self care is nothing but doing what makes you happy. Experts recommend at least 2 self care practices every day.
For me this includes reading a book I love, getting a massage, 10 minutes of meditation or a scoop of Very Berry strawberry ice cream in a cone. To each her own. Self care can build your inner resilience and raise your self worth against all odds. Try it.