4 things you need to know about body confidence
I’ve been on my body confidence journey for over 10 years now. Back in 2005, I decided I’d had enough of feeling bad about myself and my body. Along the journey, I’ve learnt, and am still learning, so much about body confidence and body image.
When I reflect on the lessons that have had the biggest impact along the way, there are four that come to mind. These lessons are fundamental principles that you need to embrace if you want to have a better relationship with your body. In my experience, until you can accept and embrace each of these lessons, you’ll struggle to make any progress with your body confidence.
As we move into a New Year, why not use these lessons as your body confidence mantras? When they become part of your mind-set, you’re well on your way to embracing your body.
Lesson #1: The only part of your body you need to work on is your brain
Over and over, I hear ladies say they need to lose weight to be more body confident. Their solution is always about the physical body, without consideration for their mind set. This brings home to me how brainwashed we are when it comes to bodies.
Women believe that in order to feel comfortable in their bodies, their weight and looks must fall within certain prescribed, (yet arbitrary) boundaries.
Yet the way you feel about your body isn’t determined by what your body looks like. It’s determined by the thoughts you have about your body, which are heavily influenced by external factors such as media, friends, peers, and family.
When you change the thoughts about your body, the feelings you have change. When you choose to decide what to think about your body and refuse to be influenced by toxic media messages, and the biased or outdated views of family and friends, you develop acceptance for your body (See Lesson #2).
Lesson #2: Accepting your body doesn’t mean you have given up on it
When I tell women that the key to feeling better about their bodies is firstly to accept them, they find this idea hard to swallow. Mistakenly they believe that acceptance means they are giving up on their body and letting themselves go. Instead they use body hate to motivate them to change their body.
Shaming your body in this way will never create positive results. You can’t look after something that you hate. When you hate something, you want to punish it, whip it into shape. In contrast, if you accept and respect your body, you are more likely to make healthier choices. In fact, acceptance is more likely to inspire positive, healthy change.
Lesson #3: Just because you accept your body, doesn’t mean everyone else will
When you accept your body as it is, you also have to accept that not everyone will. One of the hardest things about body confidence is continuing to appreciate and value your body even when you receive hurtful or unkind comments from others.
Body shaming, particularly ‘fat shaming’ has become an acceptable form of discrimination in our culture. A shocking illustration of this discrimination occurred recently on the London Underground, where ‘fat shaming’ cards were handed out to commuters.
If others cannot accept your body, it’s their issue not yours. Nothing gives another person the right to pass comment on your looks – you aren’t public property. If you’re ever faced with any form of abuse to do with your looks, size or weight, simply tell the abuser if they don’t like what they see, not to look!
Lesson #4: Body confidence is a journey not a destination
Even when you reach a stage where you feel comfortable in your own skin most of the time, it’s natural to have days where you have a wobble. My body confidence wobbles tend to happen on days where I’m tired, stressed or hormonal and I take my emotions out on my appearance.
It’s at times like this that you have to remind yourself that you are on a journey. Body confidence is not a destination. As you progress on your journey, your body confidence muscles get stronger, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to weakness. What it does mean is that you are more able to deal with these body confidence dips and get yourself back on track using the body confidence strategies that you’ve learned along the way.