Body confidence is important to me because I spent much of my life feeling unattractive, big, ungainly, larger and lesser than more attractive people. That changed in the last few years. Part of it is age, part of it was roller derby, but a big part of it was a lot of deep thinking and a conscious change in my general attitude and the kind of media I consume.
But what is body confidence? To me its lots of things, but I’m going to paraphrase a few things that really describe it to me:
“Body confidence is not thinking you’re perfect. It’s knowing that it’s ok that you’re not.”
By this I mean to say when a lot of people think of others who are confident about their body, it’s because they have the rock hard abs, perfect skin and shampoo advert hair to back it up, and they have every right to feel body confident, but what about the rest of us?
We all know that most of the perfect beings we’re used to seeing have one key thing in their favour – Photoshop. But most of us still internalise the messages that are fed to us: slim (but not too slim), toned (but not too muscular), hour glass, large breasts but pert etc, etc, etc.
Even when we’re consciously aware of it, it’s still hard to not compare, to not feel less than worthy. I think we can go much deeper than that and with some work I think all of us can achieve, if not body love, some level of body acceptance.*
Should you wish to attempt that journey (and I highly recommend it!) here’s my tips of where to begin.
*Conversely I don’t think anyone who can’t reach that point of love/acceptance is wrong or bad. We already have too many “shoulds” placed on us without body confidence being thrust on that list.
1) Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your best friend
One of the hardest things to achieve when pursuing body confidence is controlling your inner monologue. That constant neg voice that says:
“You look gross today! Ugh look at your skin.” etc. Quieting it is not easy, but every time you catch yourself saying things along those lines – stop and think. Would I speak like that to anyone else? How would they feel if I did?
If I woke up everyone morning and said to a significant other, “Good morning, you look bloated and horrid today!” What would that do to their self-esteem? Or imagine saying it to a stranger on the street. Chances are if you did it often you’d soon get punched in the face!
So DON’T do it to yourself. At this point you may not be able to replace those thoughts with more positive ones, but a great start is consciously shutting down those nasty voices.
You are the only person that you have to live with forever, so you better make friends and get comfortable or you’re going to have a rough ride!
2) Stop putting down others
Now I’m going to go out on a limb and imagine you don’t put strangers or loved ones down to their face on a regular basis. If you do, you’re a bad person and should probably work on that! But as above this one is mostly relating to your inner monologue and (let’s be honest) how we sometimes talk amongst friends.
If we see someone dressed in an unusual way or showing more flesh than we ourselves would be consider showing, or anything where you laugh or point it out – don’t. We all have these thoughts. If we see something out of the ordinary that draws attention, it’s unlikely we won’t think anything at all, but we don’t have to voice that. Instead try finding something more positive to say about them like; “That person is confident.” or “That person is wearing great shoes.”
Following on from that…
3) Realise that we are all different and that’s OK
The notion of a one size/type fit all when it comes to humans is ludicrous. All of us are a product of our genes and each one of us carries a set of inherited traits that are unique to us. It’s such a terrible clichéd thing to say but we genuinely are all different, unique and yes, beautiful (cringe!) in our own way. And I’m going to go all the way here and throw you another cliché because sometimes they’re just true…. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Or put another way by the lovely Dita Von Tease:
“You can be the juiciest ripest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who just doesn’t like peaches.”
No matter what you look like, some people will appreciate your beauty, some won’t. Who cares? If you feel good (here I go again…) confidence shines through from the inside.
I used to think that was as hokey and stupid as you probably are right now, but if you carry yourself as an attractive, self-confident person other people will see that in you and treat you as such.
4) Stop comparing yourself
Once you’ve accepted point 3 (we are all different) use it. Believe it. If we are all different, why would I stand beside my friend and think, “Their teeth are straighter!” “Their thighs are slimmer! “Their butt is so pert” etc.
Who is this helping? If you voice these things to the person in question, maybe just maybe they might take it as a compliment? But mostly it will probably make them feel uncomfortable. They, like you, are a product of their genetics and their own unique life experiences. Focus on the qualities that you have and that you like about yourself.
But it is also helpful to…
5) Actively look for the beauty in others
A lot can be gained by finding the beauty in other people. Take time to appreciate people and not just their looks, but things about them that are wonderful. Maybe your team mate has the most blue eyes you’ve ever seen, but she’s also a computer whizz who just completed the team website singled-handedly? And once in a while maybe tell her? But don’t phrase it negatively! Don’t say “Oh man I wish I had your gorgeous eyes, mine are a horrid muddy brown!” (I’m pretty sure we’ve all done this faux compliment/self put-down!)
Just keep it simple. “Hey, you have great eyes!” is perfect.
By saying it from a jealous stand point you’re making the meat of the statement about you in a negative way. Again not nice from either side of the road.
Once you start to be able to appreciate the beauty in others it slowly becomes easier to appreciate it in yourself.
We’ll continue the remaining 5 points in part two of this blog.
In the next few days we’ll be asking you to send us your body positive images using the hashtag #HarlotHappyBody
More coming on that shortly.
By Finn Furious