How often do you find yourself singing along to “I like big butts and I can not lie” by Sir Mix-a-lot? The truth is, some of us like big butts and some of us like small butts. We all like different things, which is just as well since we all come in different shapes and sizes. This is an important realization if you want to be more body positive.
The 80s celebrated the heroin chic look. Supermodels were unhealthily skinny. The message this put out into society was dangerous and damaging. Luckily, we now live in an era of greater acceptance of all body types. But it is still difficult to move away from the beauty standards depicted in the media. It’s time to show your body gratitude for everything it is, instead of punishing it for everything you perceive it isn’t.
This article is for everyone who has ever wished they could change something about their body. Read on to learn 5 easy ways to become more body positive.
What is body image?
It is estimated that 8 million Americans suffer from some type of eating disorder, many of whom never receive an official diagnosis.
Our relationship with our bodies is complex.
Our body is the vessel in which we move around. It is the visual image people see. We can not help but be represented by our body image. And unfortunately, we can not influence how others react to our bodies.
Our body image is based on how we feel about our own reflection and also how we believe other people see us.
According to this article, someone with a positive body image is comfortable with how they look and how they feel. They may not be perfect, but they accept who they are. Perhaps most importantly, they recognize who they are on the inside is more important than who they are on the outside.
On the flip side, the same article describes someone with a negative body image as having a deep unhappiness within themselves. This is someone who doesn’t like their body or a particular aspect of it. Maybe they want to:
- Lose weight.
- Gain muscle.
- Change their boob size.
- Change their hair.
- Have whiter teeth.
The possible changes we may want to make to our bodies can seem endless. And for what? For society? Do you think these changes will guarantee happiness? Sometimes all we need is to seek acceptance within ourselves, which will lead to happiness.
When we suffer from a negative body image, it can become consuming and distracting.
Accepting your body
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors, and creeds. Variety is the spice of life.
But what happens when we are born into a body that we don’t like?
Puberty years can be the toughest. Not only are our hormones adding confusion to our minds. But our body changes and develops in ways that can make us feel self-conscious. We are suddenly hyper-vigilant about what we look like and also notice what our peers look like.
My mum was an overweight child and received negative comments about this from friends and family. She lost a lot of weight in her 20s. She is now a lean elderly lady. But she still thinks of herself as fat. The comments she received as a child were so pervasive that they have stayed with her throughout her life.
We have a choice. We can get caught up in unhappiness and disdain for the way we look. Or we can embrace who we are and ignore the external comments. When we learn to accept who we are, we realize who and what is important in our lives. Perhaps most importantly we embrace life and start to really enjoy living!
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.Oscar Wilde
Let’s practice what we preach. It’s time to remove all judgment of the physical appearance of others from our dialogue.
5 ways to be more body positive
It’s time to change your relationship with your body.
For years I was criticized for being too skinny and having small boobs. I was never enough for others. But I have learned to be enough for myself. I have learned to love my body. I may not be altogether content with my figure but I am learning to love it.
Moreover, I am grateful to my body for carrying me around the world on many adventures. My body is my partner in crime.
Here are 5 tips to be more body positive. Please note, if your body negativity is pervasive and impacts your daily life, you may benefit from seeing a therapist or visiting your doctor.
Remember, you deserve to be happy and love your body!
1. Focus on what your body can do
I’m a huge advocate for appreciating what your body can do. How often do you take our body for granted?
It is only in the last few years that I have stopped punishing my body for not looking exactly how I want it to look. My thighs may be bigger than I’d like, but they carry me with ease in ultra marathons. My boobs may be smaller than society would like, but they don’t get in the way of my active lifestyle.
What does your body let you do?
When we stop focusing on what our body looks like and recognize everything it does for us, we gain a new found respect.
2. Get body perspective
You know that old cliche, you never know what you have until it’s gone? Its truth is profound. Following a mountain biking accident, my friend is now paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. Do you think she cares about excess fat or having wonky toes now? No, she laments for all that her body used to be able to do, not for what it looked like.
Does your body make you a good person? If you lost weight or gained muscle, would you be a kinder person? Would you be a better person? I think we all know the answers to these questions.
If you want to bring about change, change from the inside.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others
I’ve always wanted perfect abs. You know, the washboard stomach with defined muscles. But alas, no 6 pack for me. My friend on the other hand, oh she has phenomenal abs. I used to feel like a failure in her presence. I used to feel inadequate.
The funny thing is, my friend is envious of my hair and my legs. Are any of us ever 100 percent happy with how we look?
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.Baz Luhrmann
Comparison is the thief of joy. Most of the time we are comparing ourselves with social media images of people who have likely:
- Set up the perfect photo shoot.
- Had plastic surgery.
- Filtered the image to the max.
- Have professional help for their diet.
- Have a personal trainer.
It’s time to unfollow! Unfollow the social media accounts that induce envy. Unfollow the accounts that are too perfect to be realistic. Then get following the accounts that make you feel good about yourself.
Want more tips on how to positively use social media? We got you covered with this article.
4. Aim for healthy
Ok, this one is super important.
Do not deprive yourself, but do not gorge yourself. Enjoy your food. But do not allow your food to be an emotional crutch. This is an extremely difficult one. Do you turn to chocolate when you are stressed? Or do you lose your appetite entirely?
Be aware of your eating habits. Healthline describes emotional eating as using food to seek comfort. This can then become a vicious cycle. We may feel unhappy with our weight but use food to comfort our negative emotions.
If you find yourself reaching for food as a comfort, try and distract yourself.
- Phone a friend.
- Go for a walk.
- Have a drink of water.
- Listen to music.
- Change your environment.
It’s your body and your choice. You have the power to decide what you put into your body and what you pass up. But this can take a huge amount of practice and willpower.
5. Embrace yourself
Focus on you and all the wonderful attributes you have. In fact, take a minute to write a list of all the things you like about your body. Ready, steady, go!
Did you do it? My list reads as follows:
- I like my smile.
- I like my long legs.
- I like my butt.
- I like my long, lean arms.
- I like my cheekbones.
- I like my shoulders.
- I like the grove of my back.
- I like my decolletage.
- I like my long fingers.
When we show our body love and recognize all the positive things about our reflection we can learn acceptance. This study found that self-compassion is a critical step toward positive body image.
I have naturally curly hair. I was bullied in school for having “frizzy” hair. These cruel comments led me to embrace straighteners as soon as they came on the market. For years I tied my hair up or made it poker straight. After all, straight hair is beautiful right?
In the last year, I have embraced my waves and curls. I no longer try to be someone I’m not. I am a girl with waves and curls and I am beautiful!
So, show up as you are. Learn to treat your body with love and respect. Here are some ways you can do this.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Treat yourself to a massage.
- Practice yoga.
- Put on a lovely skin cream.
- Lie on a shakti mat.
And above all, be grateful to your body for everything it allows you to do.
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When we shift our focus away from our body's flaws and recognize what our body is capable of, we feel empowered. A little self-compassion goes a long way in increasing our body positivity. Remember, no more comparing yourself with others. Learn to show up as you are and be grateful for all that you are. It’s time to love your body exactly as it is.
Do you struggle with body positivity? Do you have another tip that you want to share that has helped you think more positively about your body? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!