Lying curled up in a ball, crying, wondering what the hell you’re going to wear today because nothing looks good. Practically everything you own gives you the dry heaves when you think about ‘body image’. Jeans are too tight. Boobs are too saggy. Arms the flabbiest they’ve ever been. To top it all off you’ve just seen the latest Kim Kardashian beach snaps and she looks phenomenal, having pushed not one but two babies out of her seemingly unaware midriff which gets flatter by the minute.
This is what real women all over the world are going through on a daily basis. We hate every inch of our bodies but many of us really want to change that mentality. We want to learn to love out bodies at ‘any size’, like all the plus size models proclaim. We want to be comfortable flaunting our belly rolls like Megan Jayne Crabbe or bravely strut our stuff in fashionable gear like Felicity Hayward.
The truth is getting to that place of body image acceptance is hard. It’s incredibly hard. Telling that sobbing woman with nothing to wear just to ‘Learn to love your body!’ is so much easier said that done. It’s basically like we are having to retrain our own brains to stop seeing ourselves as unworthy because we don’t look like supermodels or celebrities. I’ve been looking for more practical ways to start building a more positive body image and I wanted to share a few simple tips that you can implement today.
Curate your wardrobe
One of the major things that makes my feel shit about my body image is my clothes. If I put something on and it’s a little too tight, or pulls in the wrong places you can guarantee that I’ll automatically start putting tearing myself apart internally with every other outfit I try on.
It’s all well and good keeping hold of clothes because you like the idea of them, or have memories of how they looked on you in the past, but let’s be honest; keeping clothes that don’t fit any more does nothing good for your mental state. It’s like keeping a picture of an ex-boyfriend up on your wall years after you’ve broken up. You’re not fooling anyone. Rip it up and move on.
Instead of trying to make old clothes work for your new body, go shopping and find a style that you’re comfortable with. I’m turning 30 this year and I’ve come to realise that being comfortable is a main priority for me. I like long-sleeved shirts. I like tops to be oversized with a deep V-neck. I like elasticated waists. My best asset is my butt and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make the most of it.
Get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel like yourself, or is restricting you in anyway – physically or a otherwise. Throw away everything from your teenage years.
Quality control the images to consume
We’re all so overwhelmed with images of the female body it’s inevitably going to contribute to your low self esteem if you’re feeling inadequate. I really enjoy exercise and going to the gym, so over time I’ve followed quite a few Instagram girls who have enviable bodies from working out. Instead of inspiring me to eat well and workout regularly I realised that I was trapping myself in a world of unrealistic expectations, where I never felt like my body was good enough. I was restricting my diet and exercising more and more as a form of punishment, adamant that my gruelling regime would earn me the body I thought I deserved.
The women themselves have beautiful bodies, and I’m not bashing them and what they do for a living – it’s just that their genetics are different to mine. I dieted hard and lost a lot of weight but was exhausted, lacking energy and still nowhere near revealing the washboard abs I dreamt of.
I’ve updated the media I consume by changing my Instagram, Bloglovin, Facebook and Twitter feed to surround myself with healthy messages about body image. I follow plus size models, bloggers and people who promote a more balanced approach to food and exercise.
Talk to other people who are struggling with body image
Trying to love your body the way it is can be testing when magazine headlines still promote crash dieting and taking fat burners for breakfast. We’re all trying to fly the flag for body positivity and although online it can seem like everyone else is on board too, in the real world not many people are talking about themselves in a loving way. Everyone is ‘starting afresh’ on Monday, or calling today a ‘write off’ after an 11am doughnut delivery to the office.
How do we surround ourselves with other strong men and women who believe they are worthy of happiness no matter what their size? I think we can help instigate that change by being verbal about what we believe to everyone we meet.
Sometimes talking to others who are struggling with the same body image issues can highlight how distorted our own views are of ourselves. Listening to friends point out their jiggly bits, wrinkles and grey hairs always takes me by surprise; What are they talking about? I can’t see any of their apparent flaws, in fact I envy their figure and their fabulous dress sense!
This happens all the time, and although I’m sympathetic to the mental turmoil they’re going through (I totally geddit), I always make sure they know why I think they’re beautiful the way they are. The way I see it, if I can get as many people as possible into this new way of thinking, they’ll help support me when I’m feeling low and vice versa. If you can create a community of people who will lift you up then you’re onto a winner.
Are you working towards a more positive body image?