Body positivity is something that is very close to my heart because I struggled with an eating disorder when I was younger. (This was back when Instagram was first becoming a thing.) Social media creates a comparative atmosphere that can really take a toll on your body image if you allow it to. As a teenager, my low self-esteem manifested into severe body image issues, which eventually led to my eating disorder.
After going to therapy, I gained some valuable insight on how to cope with body image issues. I’m doing better now, although I still occasionally get negative thoughts about my body. If you’re like me and you find it hard to love your body sometimes, this post is for you. I wanted to write it to share some strategies I use to boost my body image and give myself a little extra love when I need it.
Here are 8 Ways to Build a More Positive Body Image:
1. Stop caring so much about what others think of you.
It’s hard to live a fulfilling life if your thoughts and actions are dictated by others’ opinions. You shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think, especially if the people in question are not close friends or family.
I’ve dated men who have made negative comments about my body. Although the comments were hurtful at the time, I later realized that those guys were just projecting their own insecurities onto me. People who make hurtful comments about your body do not care about you. Stay away from them.
Appreciate your body just the way it is, and put other people’s nasty comments on mute. The only opinion that should matter is your own.
2. Work on personal development in areas of your life that don’t relate to your appearance.
Loving your body is important, but it isn’t the only thing you should improve. By focusing on your goals, career, or other areas of your life outside of your appearance, you will strengthen your self-esteem. Your priorities will shift, and the negative thoughts about your body will go away, or they will at least be less prominent.
Learn how to balance self-love and personal growth here.
3. Take care of your body.
Showing your body love means taking good care of it! If you eat healthy and exercise, your body will reward you. You will feel happier and more energized, which will help you maximize productivity and make the most out of your day.
Caring for your body doesn’t stop there. You should avoid alcohol and drugs whenever you can. I used to drink and go to parties often in college, and I feel so much better now that I limit my alcohol consumption. If you drink often, you should consider cutting back. I know it can be hard, especially if you are in a social setting where everyone is drinking. (Trust me, my friends LOVE to drink.) But I have a better lifestyle now that I’m not drinking every weekend, and I think you would too.
Now, I’m not saying that you should give up unhealthy food and alcohol altogether. You should treat yourself every once in a while and enjoy your life. The most important thing is to listen to your body and give it what it needs to function properly. Check out my post on maintaining a positive relationship with food here.
4. Appreciate the things your body is capable of.
Your body is capable of so much, and it can be eye-opening to take a second and appreciate how amazing it is. One of the main reasons I lift weights is because it makes me feel strong. To me, it has nothing to do with how pretty I am or how sexy my body is. When I lift weights, I feel tough. It’s truly empowering for me.
I encourage you to find an activity that makes you feel capable and strong. It could be dancing, running, lifting weights, or whatever you want. As long as it’s something that helps you love and appreciate your body more, you’re taking a step in the right direction.
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5. Quit comparing yourself to others!
This tip is an important one for me. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time online looking at photos and videos of other women. I fell into a deep depression because I felt like I could never compare to the models I saw on the Internet. I think my self-esteem issues were caused by my perfectionism and tendency to compare myself to others.
You will drive yourself crazy comparing yourself to the “models” you see when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed. Comparisons will deprive you of joy. Instead of wishing you were like someone else, focus on your own amazing qualities. You have something unique to offer to the world, and you should celebrate that!
6. Consider taking a break from social media.
Social media platforms, especially Instagram, have created a culture where people invest too much time in the lives of others instead of their own. Your life has the potential to be great, so stop living vicariously through other people! Focus on your own goals and aspirations so you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Social media and body image can be enemies. I encourage you to take a break from social media every once in a while (or indefinitely, if you can).
7. Replace self-criticism with positive self-talk.
The way you talk to yourself dictates how you feel about yourself. That’s why it’s so important to silence your inner critic and encourage positive self-talk.
Whenever a negative thought pops into your head, try to turn it into a positive one.
Here’s an example:
Negative statement: I can’t believe I forgot to do xyz. I’m such an idiot!
Below, I took the critical statement and tried to turn it into something more positive.
Positive statement: Wow, I forgot to do xyz today. That’s OK, everyone makes mistakes. I will make sure to set a reminder next time.
By changing the way you talk to yourself, you will improve your whole mindset.
8. Practice self-love overall.
Self-love should extend to your whole existence, not just your body. By practicing self-love every day, you will live a happier and more fulfilling life.
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