We’ve all been there – checking our tummies for food baby bumps, yanking our favorite pair of jeans over our waist that just don’t seem to want to button anymore, or scrolling through Instagram model’s feeds wishing we had arms, curves, and abs like that. We shame ourselves for our cellulite, try every fad diet and workout program in the book, and still refuse to accept ourselves as we are.
Accepting our bodies is doing the bare minimum – saying, hey, this body is what I’ve been given. Let’s learn to be okay with that. But it’s a whole different ball game when we actually love them. Imagine waking up every day, looking in the mirror, and thinking, Wow. I am so blessed to have this body. Look how beautiful it is!
Now, some of you may be thinking – yeah, right. Seems a little far fetched. And, I get it. You’ve been taught to question how you look from mean girls at recess, from rude college boys, and from corporate America shoving cellulite creams and waist trainers down your throat. So, it’s really no wonder that our instinct is to find our faults rather than embrace our imperfections. But I’m here to cut the sh*t that we’ve been told all our lives and help you not only accept your body, but love it fully. So, how do we do it??
Block, Unfollow, Erase
As Gen-Z-ers, much of our negative body image stems from social media. So, first thing’s first – unfollow anyone on your social feeds that make you feel less-than. This may mean the size double-0 models, celebrities, your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend – literally anyone that you find yourself comparing yourself to, or who makes you feel as though you need to look a certain way, hit that unfollow button.
Now, I want to note that this isn’t to skinny shame in any way, but it’s important to know your triggers and curate your feed to uplifting, positive body image accounts. And if this means unfollowing or muting people in your circle who are contributing to your negative body image, don’t feel petty for making this decision for yourself. Hell, unfollow them in real life too! You don’t want to maintain a relationship with anyone who is going to body shame or intentionally make you feel insecure.
Expand Your Network
On the flip side, there are so many people and companies nowadays that have hopped on the body positivity train – find those accounts and fill your feed with this type of content. Find the fitness account that preaches working out to feel good and not to look a certain way. Buy from the clothing store that uses diverse body types in their advertising. Befriend the influencer who opens up about her personal struggle with body image and posts Instagram vs. Reality content to show how many of us try to portray ourselves online versus what most of us actually look like. (Some accounts I like include: https://www.instagram.com/bridgetkatefit/, https://www.instagram.com/aerie/, https://www.instagram.com/georgie.clarke/)
And this doesn’t just mean on social! Seek out books, artists, podcasts, that discuss/portray their own stories and experiences with body image. Realize that you’re not the only one who has ever questioned their appearance before, and many of us continue to struggle with it. Meet new people, have the conversation with friends, your mom, your aunt, your coworkers. Most of us women can relate to feeling inadequate when it comes to our jean size or the never-ending cycle of trying to lose a few pounds. Make those connections and build a support system where you can build each other up and remind each other that you’re beautiful just as you are.
Remember What’s Real
We all post the “best” versions of ourselves online. And many times, this version is edited in some capacity – whether it’s airbrushing your face, whitening your teeth, slimming your waist, or slapping on some fake abs, our bodies are not always as they appear in real life. Remember this!! Even though many of us have thrown an edit or two on our own pictures, we tend to forget that others do the same. We think that these models and celebrities actually have these “perfect” bodies, when they are likely heavily edited too!
Luckily for us, the “real body” movement is now extremely prevalent, especially on Instagram, but this doesn’t mean that editing no longer exists. Remind yourself that when you see a post that makes you want to compare yourself, there are various factors that are at play – lighting, editing, maybe they didn’t eat that day, maybe they’re heavily flexing/sucking in, etc. Don’t compare yourself to something that doesn’t portray the natural state of a healthy body.
Be Kind to Yourself
You already know what’s coming next – affirmations, baby!! We believe what we tell ourselves. So, start telling yourself that you love yourself and your body daily and there will come a point where you actually believe it. Hell, look at yourself in the mirror naked and point out three things you love (even if you don’t – actually, especially the things that you don’t.) Tell yourself you love your cellulite, your little extra pouch on your lower stomach, the fact that your legs touch – because it means that you’re healthy, you can bear children, your organs are working properly, you have a healthy, rosy glow to you. This will feel foreign at first, but the more love you give to your body, the more it will love you back.
So say thank you for this body that is your vehicle through life, the body that allows you to swim in the ocean, to dance at a bar, to hug a friend. Be thankful for everything your body is and looks like because it was made perfectly for you, and there’s nothing that replicates it. No one has that birthmark behind your ear, or the scar on your hand you got from rollerblading with your friends, or the exact shade of your eyes. Your body type and the number on the scale do not define you, so stop letting them define how you live your life. Don’t waste your life away trying to measure up to societal ideals of beauty, and start embracing and celebrating your beauty right here, right now, exactly how you are in this moment.