Guide to Body Positivity: Tips For Body Appreciation
If it feels harder than ever to develop a positive, healthy relationship with your body, you aren’t alone. “Most Americans report feeling unhappy with how their body looks” - and people of every gender and age group are experiencing this.
There is no question that we live in a superficial society, one that glorifies certain body types and appearances to the point that anyone who doesn’t fit in is made to feel worthless. With the rise of social media, images of “ideal” bodies are more visible than ever before. Our self-worth is so entangled in our physical appearance that mental illness rates are skyrocketing. Self-esteem is becoming a real health concern, and it’s up to all of us to do the inner work to solve this problem, not just for ourselves as individuals, but for the good of society as a whole.
Here are 7 ways you can start changing your thinking that will empower you to really appreciate yourself and your body the way you are now.
7 Body-Positive Body Appreciation Tips:
1. Replace Body Judgment with Body Celebration
Notice how your mood changes based on how you think you look on a given day. On the days you’re really struggling with your body image, find more positive or even just neutral words to describe your body.
For example, use “laugh lines” instead of “wrinkles.” Refer to your stretch marks as “growth marks” or “tiger stripes” if you’re feeling particularly powerful. Some women are now decorating their stretch marks with glitter and calling them “strength marks.”
Remove words from your vocabulary that are self-deprecating and replace them. Speak to and about your body the way you would speak to a friend. If your nose is big, celebrate it by saying, “I have a striking, memorable, and commanding presence.” This is one of the most empowering ways to celebrate your body and is worth every minute you spend doing it.
2. Follow Body-Positive Social Media Accounts
Take time to curate your social media feeds to display messages and images that give you confidence and foster a healthy relationship with your body. Find people and artists you resonate with by searching the #bodypositive tag, and make sure these people speak positively about all body types. People like Jameela Jamil and her I Weigh movement, Megan Jayne Crabbe, and Recipes For Self Love are great places to start.
And remember, don’t obsessively check your social media for likes and views - limit your time spent on social media if it’s not constructive.
3. Experiment with Your Style
One way to develop a healthier relationship with your body is to experiment with your appearance and style. Dye or cut your hair, take yourself shopping for some new clothes, or just go through your closet and put together a more adventurous outfit than you’d usually wear. Wear bright colours and patterns or try all black.
Take inspiration from public figures or people in your life who are secure in their bodies whose styles you admire, just be careful not to fall into the trap of comparison while you do it. The point here is to try something new for yourself, not to mirror someone else.
4. Give Compliments That Aren’t Appearance-Based
Write or research compliments to give to others and yourself that have nothing to do with physical appearances.
Compliments towards yourself need to become a habit. Start your day by giving yourself compliments and you’ll set the direction of your thoughts instead of letting negative self-talk set the tone. For example, start your day by thinking that same statement from the movie The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is Important.” Notice whe
You can also make it a habit to give at least one non-appearance-based compliment each day to someone to work on this. So, instead of seeing your friend and immediately blurting out how you love their new haircut, mention how warm you feel in their company.
5. Use Affirmations
For some, using affirmations can be helpful when practicing body positivity. You can use affirmations in different ways, like saying them out loud with complete conviction while you look at yourself in a mirror. Writing affirmations on sticky notes and placing them in the areas you spend time in during the day, like your room, bathroom, office, or car work well as little reminders.
Using affirmations to retrain your subconscious mind is very effective for building a better relationship with your body. You can write something like, “my value is in my integrity and my kindness,” or, “I love and accept my body and my natural radiant energy.”
6. Read Books about Overcoming Body Shame
A great way to learn new tactics for body appreciation is to read the stories of others who have changed their relationships with their bodies. Check out books like Wild Feminine by Tami Kent and Fat? So! by Marilyn Wann.
Avoid diet books or anything that suggests changing your appearance in any way. Avoid taking advice from people who seem to equate happiness with the way you look, which is most of the health world. The images on the covers of health magazines don’t promote a healthy self-appreciation, they are limited to thinking of happiness in terms of looks for the most part. Don’t let those limited viewpoints limit you.
7. Write a Personal Body-Positive Manifesto
Instead of focusing on what you no longer want, focus on what you do want, then write it into existence by creating a body-positive manifesto.
Write a ridiculously positive body appreciation manifesto and read it daily. It can be a simple paragraph that states exactly how you want to think and feel, a lengthy essay, or a love letter to yourself. You can include phrases such as, “I feel confident and I am worthy of love and respect.” Or, simply write down the exact opposite of every negative thought you have about yourself to counter it.
If you take time to work on practicing body-positivity daily, you will create new ways of thinking - about yourself, and about others. You’re changing the world by changing yourself. Talk about this and empower yourself and others to love and appreciate their bodies as they are right now.
Have compassion for yourself as you retrain your thinking. Do not beat yourself up for your insecurities, show yourself patience and gently replace any harsh thoughts you have about yourself with kindness and understanding. Changing deeply ingrained social contracts takes time, but with your enthusiasm and intention, you’ll get there.
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