No matter how confident you are, we all have days where we’re simply not feeling comfortable in our own skin. And unfortunately, even though we know we’re “allowed” to love our bodies now, most of us will still struggle with body positivity and how to accept the way we look, just as we are.
Facts are facts: We live in an image-obsessed culture that thrives on telling us we’re not thin enough, toned enough, pretty enough (OK, these qualifiers could go on literally forever), offering up easy tips for losing weight or fixing our so-called “flaws,” helping us to be the “best” version of ourselves we can be.
The truth is: This is all bullshit. You don’t need to change a damn thing about your body.
But loving yourself and having a positive body image is much easier said than done, and it can be so hard to truly embrace our bodies as they are. If you’re just getting started with body positivity, here are a few easy body-positive tips that can help you feel better in your skin.
We all do this without even realizing…those little things we do like sucking in our stomachs or pushing our arm out to create the “skinny arm” pose in a photo. It’s called “body-checking,” and it’s constantly being aware of how your body is positioned or what it looks like at any given moment. Stopping this behavior is challenging, so start by simply acknowledging that you’re doing it, without judging yourself or trying to change the behavior. It will help you identify triggering moments where you are feeling inherently self-conscious, such as before taking a photo or putting clothes on in the morning.
2Walk around naked as much as you can.
One way to get used to your body is to actually see it, and you can’t do that if you’re only naked for 10 minutes a day in the shower. If you take more opportunities to frolic in the nude when you’re home alone (please, don’t try this in public!), you’ll learn how to appreciate the beauty of your body and your features.
Meditating, even for 5 or 10 minutes a day, has been proven to help with a number of mental and physical health conditions, from insomnia to anxiety and depression. If you’ve never tried it (or thought it seemed too New Age-y for your tastes), you may be surprised to find that taking a few minutes each day to collect your thoughts and clear your mind can help you with your overall body image. There are plenty of free (and easy!) guided meditation apps (such as Calm and Headspace) to start with, or you can search YouTube for body positivity-focused meditation sessions. You won’t regret it.
4Write it down.
If you haven’t picked up a journal since your teens, you may want to get yourself a cute one. Journaling is an underrated yet powerful tool that can help you sort out any problem, whether body-related or otherwise. It can be extremely cathartic to get your thoughts out on paper, especially if you’re used to keeping them bottled up inside. Even writing down just a few sentences about your struggles can help you learn to handle them with kindness.
5Take the friend test.
When you’re having negative, hurtful thoughts about your body, a good exercise is to ask yourself what you’d say if a friend said these words to you about herself. Chances are, it would break your heart that your friend is being so unkind to herself. Part of self-love and body acceptance is treating yourself as your own best friend. Instead of placing judgment on your own words, simply acknowledge them and ask yourself what you’d say if it were your BFF telling you these things.
6Change the script.
Instead of lamenting that your body doesn’t look a certain way, reframe your thoughts to focus on all the things your body can do. When you’re fixated on your legs, focus instead on how they carry you through your busy days. If you’re fixated on your arms, remind yourself that those same arms hug your loved ones (and carry all those groceries!). Maybe you absolutely crush it in spin class or can do all kinds of crazy yoga poses — no matter what your particular strengths are (and you do have so many!), celebrating your body’s small accomplishments can help you appreciate it more overall.
7Find one thing to love.
When you’re struggling with negative self-talk, it can feel like an endless, deafening loop of criticism and anguish. But if you can find one feature that you truly love (maybe it’s your sparkly green eyes or your megawatt smile), you can remind yourself of the beauty you do possess.
8Throw out your scale.
Here’s the thing that our weight-obsessed culture never wants to tell you: Weight really doesn’t matter when it comes to health. The Health at Every Size movement has grown in popularity in recent years, aiming to respect and appreciate that weight is often a very unimportant and minuscule determinant in a person’s health. There are so many other things besides a number on the scale that contribute to overall health and wellness, such as lowering stress levels, getting adequate sleep, eating a variety of foods, and proper self-care. If weighing yourself is contributing to how you feel about your body…ditch the scale!
9Reframe your compliments and your thank yous.
It may seem positive to tell a friend that she looks great if she appears to have lost weight or altered her appearance, but this becomes an unending cycle of feeling like you have to look a certain way to elicit compliments. If you instead compliment people on their positive attributes by appreciating their kindness, their intelligence, or their accomplishments, it will slowly help you realize that appearance isn’t that important. Similarly, when someone compliments you on something, try simply saying “thank you” instead of brushing it off, downplaying it, or complaining.
10Surround yourself with body-positive images as much as possible.
In a world of “bikini body-ready” women’s magazines, #fitspo Instagram stars, and relentless advertising on TV, we truly have no idea how often our brains are exposed to messages that tell us we’re not good enough the way we are. Instead, stop following those fitness bloggers, throw out those magazines, and turn the TV off from time to time. There are plenty of body-positive social media stars spreading the message that are truly worth following — simply search Instagram for #bopo or #bodypositive to find examples of body-loving ladies and gentlemen to remember that all bodies are beautiful.
11Wear only clothes that make you feel comfortable.
We’re all guilty of holding onto old clothes that don’t fit anymore in the hopes that we’ll lose weight and wear them again. This is a bad move, as is buying an item of clothing that is too small in the hopes it will motivate you to lose weight quickly. The answer is an easy one: Get rid of any and all clothes that don’t make you feel great or that don’t fit you properly today. If something doesn’t make you feel good, or makes you feel like you have to lose weight to fit in it, it’s taking up valuable space in your closet and your life. Donate everything that doesn’t fit, and keep only the stuff that does.
12Find the self-care practices that work for you.
The concept of self-care has become popular in recent years as a way to prioritize our own needs and wants, but it can be hard to know where to begin. Sure, it can be a bubble bath with candles and music, but find what truly makes you feel relaxed and at ease. If finding the time for a spa-like oasis in your bathroom stresses you out — don’t do it. Self-care can come in whatever you find relaxing. Some easy examples include listening to music, reading a book, meditating, listening to a podcast, or going for a walk in your neighborhood. It’s crucial to take time for yourself each day, because putting your needs first will help you feel better about yourself overall, body image included.
It sounds so silly, but sometimes you’ve just got to turn up the music in your bedroom and dance around in your underwear. Even if you feel totally goofy or you’re a horrible dancer, being connected to your body and the rhythm of your favorite song just plain feels good sometimes. So put on some Britney and get to it, girl. You deserve it.