I don’t care what you look like. Whether you are a Victoria’s Secret model or a woman who browses the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalog longing to look like one, we all have aspects of our appearances that we are insecure about and would like to change. We live in a superficial society that glorifies particular traits, so when we don’t have them our first reaction is to berate ourselves. As Tina Fey has said, “Every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.” Given that it is impossible for us to possess every beauty ideal unless we are made by Russian scientists, insecurities can find us as easily as a shark can spot a drop of blood.
Given that these feelings of insecurity do nothing but harm us and make us feel lousy, how about we cut it out already?! My friend Dani Felip has written a wonderful article on steps we can take to quit being nasty to ourselves and get the ball rolling on treating ourselves with the love, appreciation and respect we deserve. As she writes, “Confidence in yourself is beautiful”. Well said Dani.
Better Body Image by Dani Felip
I once wrote down all the awful things I would tell myself in a day…
My skin is bad and it makes me ugly. I must not be cute enough for anyone to want to date me. My thighs touch so I must be fat. Etc. A typical day for me would start with one or usually all of these phrases as I looked in the mirror. I’ve knocked down any ounce of self-worth I had all before 10am. I would never let anyone else talk to me like that so how can it be acceptable to say that to myself?
Of course I can go on about how media is destroying women, young and old and that our culture has created unrealistic ideals of what we have to live up too. The dieting industry is a multi-billion dollar market designed to fail and yet we keep searching for the next quick fix for our weight struggles. Girls as young as 7 worry about their weight and appearance.
It’s a lot to take in. It’s hard to know where to start and how to fix it. I personally believe that it starts with you and by building a positive body image it may help others to do the same. This isn’t just a teenage girl problem, poor body image happens to everyone; men, women, young, old across the board.
We should distinguish between positive body image and self-improvement because I think there’s a big difference and they shouldn’t be confused. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to lose weight, to wear make-up or have a butt you could bounce a quarter off of. It’s something completely different to want all of that because you think what you have right now isn’t good enough. Trust me, look in the mirror. The you that is staring back IS enough.
I love this quote by Oprah Winfrey: “This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
Here are 5 steps that you can do right now to help develop a positive body image:
1. Positive affirmations
It sounds new age-y but it works. Think of a sentence ie “today I will smile more because I have a beautiful smile” or “the number on the scale does not measure my worth.” Anything you want. Write it on a sticky note, put it on your bathroom mirror and every time you pass by you read it out loud. It’s the “fake it til you make it” mentality. When you train your brain to think of these positive statements, you are empowered and will come to believe it’s true.
2. Don’t buy into the media
Stop buying all those magazines that you find while waiting at the check-out line. If you think about it, you’re paying money to read advertisements for products and flawless women that are supposed to make us feel inferior unless we use them. It’s someone’s job to air-brush the sh*t out of those images. Learn to separate the real from the fantasy.
3. Like attracts like
It’s easier to feel good about yourself when you are surrounded by people who feel good about themselves. If you find yourself with people who are constantly ragging on themselves and you end up doing the same, it may be time to re-evaluate how and with who you are spending your energy.
4. Focus on the good
We all have insecurities but when those insecurities become all-consuming, it is incredibly unhealthy. Write down a list of 10 amazing things about yourself, they don’t and shouldn’t be all physical traits. Read this list when you need a boost. Confidence in yourself is beautiful.
5. Self acceptance
The day I realized I would never be 6′ and thin was a very good day. Self acceptance is hard and will take practice and work but the result will be incredible. This is not to say that you shouldn’t put on make-up and a cute outfit. I know when I look my best that I feel my best but at the same time when I feel my best, is when I feel most beautiful. No longer will you spend all your energy hoping for what isn’t there and loving what you have (because it’s fabulous!)
“Weight and body oppression is oppressive to everyone. When you live in a society that says that one kind of body is bad and other is good, those with “good” bodies constantly fear that their bodies will go “bad”, and those with “bad” bodies are expected feel shame and do everything they can to have “good” bodies. In the process, we torture our bodies, and do everything from engage in disordered eating to invasive surgery to make ourselves okay. Nobody wins in this kind of struggle.”
Dani (Danielle) Felip is a Holistic Nutritionist and Mindful Living Coach based in Toronto, Ontario. Her passion is helping others to achieve optimal health through mind-body balance. Dani has a special interest in the areas of mental health, eating disorders, stress management and mindful eating as she herself suffered for years with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. She approaches health and wellness with compassion, understanding and a sense of humor. Visit Dani here: http://www.enlightenedlife.ca/