Three years ago, if you’d asked me what I might want to change about myself, I would have been able to give you a whole list. Height, weight, body shape, hair colour, laugh, scars, facial structure. You name it, I was unhappy with everything in some way.
If you ask me that same question now, I might say add an inch onto my height and give me a more defined waist, or I might just say ‘nah, nothing’.
Now let me just say, it is okay to feel unhappy with your body. Although I’m here to try and promote body positivity, I’m not here to say that it’s wrong if you don’t feel confident. It is okay not to be body confident. If you do feel this way and you want to work on becoming more body confident, then keep reading and hopefully I can help you, even if it’s only in some small way.
The quote above explains one of the main reasons why people might feel self-conscious or unhappy. When everyone is posting their best selfie on Instagram and only tweeting about the perfect parts of their life, it’s a highlight reel. They’re not showing you the bare-faced look they had when they rolled out of bed, or the baggy, unflattering clothes they wear on a lazy day. Most of the time, it’s these behind-the-scenes moments that people compare to other people’s highlight reels.
My journey to feeling more body confident wasn’t an easy or a quick one. It was hard, and just when I thought I was making progress, something would happen to push me right back to square one. It’s a constant process that requires determination and persistence, and there is no final destination. Once you get to a point where you feel body confident, it doesn’t mean you’re done. The way you feel can change daily and there’s good days and bad days. When the good days outweigh the bad, that’s when you’re making progress.
Finding your way to feeling body confidence comes in two major parts; you have to get over other people’s opinions, and you also have to get past the negative things you might think about yourself. One of these is a lot more important than the other.
One of the hardest things is moving past the worry about what other people might think of you. Once you realise that a stranger’s opinion of you doesn’t matter, you’ve passed the biggest hurdle. Nobody else should dictate your life – it’s your mind and your body.
Then the most important part is learning how to love yourself; how to see yourself in the mirror and think of a positive comment, rather than a negative one; how to see clothes in a shop and think ‘I’d look great in that’; how to see a beautiful celebrity on social media and carry on scrolling, without stopping to compare your looks. Getting to this stage is worth the work, because I promise you that you’ll feel so much happier.
Here are some things you can do that might help you to improve your body confidence:
1. Unfollow those people on social media who always look beautiful. If you always find yourself scanning their pictures to find comparisons, get them off your timeline. They aren’t inspiration, so don’t try to become another version of them. You need to work out how to be you and how to be happy about it. Instead, try following some body-positive accounts and celebrities who post unedited pictures. (I wrote about my favourite body positive accounts here. Celebs like Giovanna Fletcher and Fearne Cotton are also great because while they do post when they’ve had their hair/make up done, they’re not ashamed to show how their lives are not always like that!)
2. Stop looking at your flaws. Easier said than done, I know, but when you find yourself picking things out step away from the mirror. Don’t stand there long enough to find a list of things about your body that make you unhappy. If you can, try to find something (even just one thing) that you like about your reflection. Once you’ve found it, stop looking. Practice this each time you’re looking in the mirror and never let those criticisms pop into your head. It requires restraint, but if I can do it, so can you.
3. Find things that make you feel happier – that could be anything from eating your favourite meal to wearing an item of clothing that makes you feel good. Surround yourself with happiness and and do things which help you feel relaxed. Take a look at my post about self-care for some ideas.
4. Make the simple changes, if it’s what you want. I’m talking things like hair colour or clothing choices, but only if it’s what you want – not what other people might be telling you to change. If it’s going to help you feel happier and more confident then why not? You don’t have to learn to feel happy with what you’ve got, if you really don’t like it. You are allowed to change things. The end goal is to feel happy and confident – how you get there is up to you.
5. Listen to podcasts, watch videos and read articles that talk about this kind of thing. Know that you are not the only one who feels this unconfident and find out how other people have taken that same body-positive journey – like me! BBC Radio 1 have recently had body image specials on their Wednesday night show, The Surgery. During the hour, they listen to people’s worries and concerns and give them advice. During their body image specials, they’ve been promoting the exact messages they should be – positivity and self love. Have a listen here.
6. Fake it till you make it. Most of my journey involved faking my confidence until it became true. If you tell yourself things enough, you will start to believe them. Just make sure they’re positive things, and not criticisms.
Remember that it’s not an easy journey and it’s okay to have bad days, but when they’re over, pick yourself back up and push that confidence to the surface. You will get to a point where you can feel body confident – because you are all, of course, amazing.
[Header image: http://pin.it/G5_Ea7a]