Alright, dolls – we’re in week 3 of the Suit Urself Swimsuit Challenge! We’ve gotten a few inquiries about submissions, so I’m very excited to be sharing them with you in the near future! If you’re curious, have a question, or want to participate, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! If you tuned in last week, you will have seen our last weekly body image article “Why Are Swimsuit Challenges Important?” This week, we’re talking about how to begin accepting your body and rock what you’ve already got! Starting to accept your body can be difficult and uncomfortable, and you will move at your own pace. For me, it was an evolving, gradual process that took several years and lifestyle/mental changes. Building and maintaining good body image takes continuous work, but you can develop skills that will keep you moving away from the negativity that our culture perpetuates. It all begins with the choice and commitment to have a more peaceful and positive relationship with yourself and your body. You might find that allowing yourself to feel good about your body has a much greater impact on your quality of life than you thought! Let’s get started! Here are some pointers on how to begin being body positive:
- Be U!
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” This quote comes from Steve Maraboli and it’s one of my favorites! So don’t compare yourself to others or try to be anything outside of yourself – because it is an insult to and waste of who you are.
- Stop objectifying yourself!
Self-objectification, a term used by psychologists to describe how people take an outsider’s view of their bodies, reducing themselves to objects to be evaluated. “Self-objectification has a variety of negative consequences – always worrying about how you look, shame about the body, and is linked to eating disorders and depression,” says study researcher Marika Tiggemann, a psychologist at Flinders University in Australia. Self-objectification is said to be a personality trait, which means some (mostly women) are more likely to objectify themselves than others. Being aware of when you are objectifying yourself can help you work around this and change the destructive behavior.
- Think of what your body can do, not what it looks like.
Shift your focus. Instead of criticizing what your body looks like, show it a little love by appreciating what it does for you every day. Set goals to do something (like run a 5K), not be something (like a certain pants size or weight), and you’ll be more likely to accomplish those goals and enjoy doing it. Plus, you’ll build confidence and improve/learn something new – something that will take you MUCH further in life than getting to a certain size!
- Redefine the words “health” and “normal”
Healthy is not a size, and there is no such thing as normal! As long as you eat a balanced diet, do some sort of moving around every day and are enjoying yourself, you’re doing it right! Health is about feeling great, and if you’re killing yourself trying to be “healthy,” something’s wrong with your approach. Everyone is build differently – different heights, bone densities, amounts of muscle, etc – so there is no “standard” weight or size. Learn to love your unique shape and focus on taking care of yourself, not restricting yourself.
- Ditch the scale
Did you know that on a daily basis, mere water weight fluctuations can tip the scale up to 5 pounds in either direction?! Imagine the stress you’ve been causing yourself over the years by weighing yourself frequently and wondering what the hell was going on! If you must monitor your weight, you’re better off doing this weekly or bi-weekly for better accuracy and less frustration. And this should be common knowledge by now, but the scale is not a good indicator of your health! It’s better to go by how your clothes fit and how you feel.
- Dress comfortably
When you’re comfortable and wearing something that you like, you’ll feel better about your overall appearance. It doesn’t matter what you wear (forget those bullshit fashion “rules!”) – as long as you love it, you’ll exude the sexiest thing of all – confidence!
- Detach from the mirror
One beauty blogger actually swore off mirrors for an entire year. Her ambitious goal was all centered on her desire to live “from the inside out, instead of the outside in.” Mirrors aren’t “bad”, but if looking into one is causing you to engage in a negative internal monologue (“Do I look fat? I hate my nose!”), it’s time to look away. Disengaging from mirrors for a little will also get you out of the habit of focusing on your appearance as much.
- Surround yourself with positivity
Although we shouldn’t rely on others so give us the self-worth that only we can give ourselves, you can lessen the negativity around you. If someone is constantly putting you down or making you feel bad about yourself, tell them to stop or try to put some distance between you and them. Women can especially become engaged in toxic friendships and relationships, and it’s important to recognize when you feel worse after talking or spending time with someone. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, appreciate you and build you up.
I should also add one more thing on this point, speaking to those who are parents: Your kids are learning from your example. If you have body image issues and portray them in your words or actions, they notice and develop those attitudes. This is very common in mother-daughter relationships. If you can’t do it for yourself, this is a great reason to improve your body image.
- Understand how the media works
This is something that I didn’t know until I studied graphic design in college and took my first Photoshop class. Ladies and gentleman, 99.9% of what you’re seeing in advertisements IS NOT REAL. This should be common knowledge, but it’s not. Don’t believe what you see because it most likely does not exist in reality. Once you know this, you’ll be too smart to make yourself miserable in the quest to become something that is literally impossible.
A great excerpt comes from Jess C. Scott, The Other Side of Life: “That’s sad. How plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something…real.” Nin interlocked his fingers, and stretched out his arms. “Real love, real friends, real body parts…” So remember – focus on what’s real and don’t get caught up in illusions!
- Learn to accept criticism and learn to take it well.
A lot of people speak just to get a reaction; don’t let them get to you. Remember that your appearance is not anyone’s business but yours. You can look HOWEVER you want to look.
- Put physical appearance in its place
Keep reminding yourself of this until it sinks in permanently: You are NOT your appearance. Realize that life isn’t about your looks; you’re not living to maintain your appearance. Trust me, it’s not a good way to live and you’ll never be happy with yourself if you keep on dwelling on these things. Besides, physical beauty fades with time – that’s an indisputable fact! But a smile that comes from true inner beauty never dims!
I hope those tips are useful to you! Do you have any techniques that have helped you feel better about your body? Share them in the comment section! And don’t forget to check back next week for our next Suit Yourself Swimsuit Challenge: If you like it, wear it! Browse through our Suit Urself gallery and follow the campaign on twitter – #suiturself!