6) Appreciate your body for what it does, not what it looks like.
If you genuinely are at a point that you can’t think of anything you actually like about your body then it’s time to start thinking about what a wondrous shell for your brain it really is. Here we go with cliché quotes… (I can’t find a source for this one)
You are capable of much more than being looked at.
Your body right now is breathing on auto pilot, its digesting your lunch, its pumping the blood to your limbs as you click that mouse with your finger that’s receiving signals to tell it what to do. It allows you to go on the hiking trip with your partner, hold your newborn nephew, allows you to skate in bouts, recover from heartbreak, the list is endless of things your awesome body does for you. Take some time to be thankful for everything it does. Make a list of things your body allows you to do – no seriously, write that list.
7) Forget dieting
Yes I know you’ve heard this before and you’re thinking she’s just going to start about lifestyle changes…
I’m going to be controversial and say forget weight loss for the sake of weight loss full stop. Our weight is such a terribly complicated thing that despite what we’re constantly told, relies on many, many factors other than energy in/= energy out.
Weight is genes, it’s our upbringing, it’s our culture, it’s our environment, it’s our access to food and it’s in the balance of our choices to live the life we ultimately want.
But a number on the scale cannot define your health, it cannot define your beauty, it cannot define your sense of self-worth.
I wholeheartedly believe that exercise (safely and at an appropriate level for the individual) is wonderful for everyone, as is getting a good range of food that nourishes our bodies in the best possibly way. But we also need mental nourishment and food restriction generally makes us miserable, even more prone to weight gain long term, and sets us up for failure and even lower self-esteem.
Of course if you want to pursue weight loss for yourself then you have every such right and I wouldn’t tell you personally otherwise. But if you ever want an alternative and to get off that merry go round for good then take a look at Health at Every Size.
8) Question Everything
This one is an absolute key for me and if you listen to only one of these steps I advise it be this one.
Why is skinny/white/blonde the most desired look? Why is cellulite ugly? Why shouldn’t I have my belly on display if I want to? Who decided? Who is judge and jury on what is or isn’t acceptable/attractive? What does flattering really mean? Why shouldn’t I wear skinny jeans when I have thick derby thighs? Why are women under such pressure to conform?
The deeper I get into these questions the more it makes me want to rebel from this social construct that really benefits no one except industry. I gots another quote for you…
“If every women woke up tomorrow and liked themselves exactly as they are, how many industries would collapse?”
Sometimes our choices genuinely are just that, but much of the time we’re influenced by what we’re told even if we don’t want to be.
I chose to wear padded bras and some people have expressed that this is contrary to my general body positive attitude. Fair point, but I’ve questioned why I do this. It basically makes me feel good. I happen to be very bottom heavy and it pleases me to have a more balanced figure. Is there anything inherently wrong with my boobs that I must do this? No. But I chose to for myself and that’s OK.
There is nothing wrong with trying to enhance or work with what you’ve got. It’s when those decisions are solely based on external forces, making you feel bad about yourself that it becomes a problem, or when you make your life decisions based on how good or bad you feel about certain body parts.
No body needs that! We all have enough daily problems in our existence without the constant nagging worry of, “Does my bum look big in this?”
9) Take photos of yourself, lots and lots of photos.
We all spend our time staring out of our own eye balls, and have little real awareness of how we actually look on a second by second basis. We can stand in front of the mirror in the morning smooth the wrinkles in our clothes move our hair until it’s just so, but during the day, lighting changes, angles change, clothes wrinkle, ride up and cling differently. But also our expressions and body language change. We light up, or we close down, or we relax or stiffen.
We’ve all had that moment of being caught off guard by a “bad” photo. The one where your double chin is showing right? But chances are it’s because you were relaxed or in the middle of a deep belly laugh. And that split second was awesome. It’s just one frame of a moment in your life.
What I’m suggesting is that by regularly taking photos of yourself in different moods, different angles, different lights you begin to make a better mental connect with what you really look like. Look at those photos and be kind to yourself. Really look at them. Don’t delete the ones you think are “bad” or “ugly”, ask yourself why you feel that way? What’s so bad about the size of my thighs? Why do I cringe when I see that photo? Think of it as self-therapy. Be gentle with yourself, forgive yourself the perceived flaws and get to know yourself.
10) You don’t owe anyone beauty
This last point I wanted to touch on as most of this blog has been about finding ways to make yourself feel more beautiful, or at least to not hate what you see in the mirror, but the final thing I want to make clear is that you don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not your family, your partner, your team, people on the street…anyone.
It’s OK to come out of the gym looking a hot mess, to be caught in a storm and completely dishevelled, to wake up and not want to wear makeup because you have a break out, to wear an outfit that others might deem “unflattering” but it happens to make you feel amazing.
Not looking “made up” or “pretty” is your absolute right, and I often think there’s a kind of beautiful rebellion in being comfortable in just dressing and behaving in a way that’s purely for you, in that moment.
If you’re interested in pursuing a more body positive mindset for yourself here’s some fantastic resources for a little inspiration. Since women get the rough end of the stick for body size and image, I don’t at current have any great resources for men – if you happen to know of any then please let us know so we can share the links
Miss Honor Curves on Instagram creator of the hash tag #honormycurves
Ragen Chastain – Fat activist, dancer and general all round awesome person.