Look in the mirror. Right now. Lift up your shirt, do a little twirl, and really look. What do you see? How do you feel? What words are coursing through your mind as you stare your body down, just the two of you?
91% of girls are unhappy with their bodies, according to DoSomething.org. That’s 9/10 fierce female friends you see waltzing down the street, walking through your school’s hallways, sitting next to you at the local coffee shop, pumping iron at the gym, or posting perfectly posed pictures on Instagram.
So on the one hand, we’re all in this together. But on the other, it’s not exactly a club we’re happy to be a part of.
Body image isn’t just how you perceive your body; it’s how you assume others perceive it as well. This is where I believe we get into trouble. Because unless you’re some super-human with mind-reading abilities, you have no freaking clue what someone else thinks about your body.
And let’s be honest – how often are you looking at the women around you and mentally noting their flaws? Hopefully not too often. Or you’re a meany and seriously need better things to do.
Why is it then that we’re so awful to ourselves? Mentally berating every little imperfection, every inch, every pound, every stretch mark. I don’t have the answer to this – but what I do have are some tools to help you get started on a body-loving journey of your own.
Because one of the best feelings out there is looking in the mirror and thinking, “Damn, you look good.” If you’ve been struggling with loving your body and need some help, start with these steps and see where they take you.
- Set new metrics. Instead of focusing on inches and pounds, pick a new metric to measure your success by. Some great options are: endurance, strength, mental clarity, ability to focus, and better sleep.
- Speak kindly. Your mind hears everything you say and think and then it delivers those messages to your body. So when you look in the mirror and say, “Gross!” Your body hears that and thinks, “Well, if I’m already gross, what’s the point anyway?” Enough of that. Even if you have to fake it for a while, come up with kind words to think and say each and every time you catch a glimpse of your fine self in the mirror. My personal favorites: “Wow your legs look killer in those jeans!” “Curves for days – that’s my girl!” “Your hair has never looked better and your skin – ugh, it’s glowing!”
- Find new hobbies that don’t depend on your body or fitness level. I’ll be the first to admit that the gym is my second home, and the kitchen is my favorite place to be. But when everything you love in the world circles around health and fitness, it’s easy to get caught up. Seek out new hobbies and skills that don’t depend on the size of your waist or your fitness level – that way your brain gets a break and you’re not constantly feeling the need to measure up (pun intended). I love to read, write (obviously), draw, volunteer, and organize. Even if one day my health were taken from me, I’d still have the ability to do these things.
- Hand out better compliments. Next time you see your best friend, try to compliment them on something other than exterior and looks. When you’re constantly focused on the exteriors of others, it’s easy to transfer that to yourself, and vice versa.
- Shut off social media. We all know it: social media isn’t real life. But gosh darnit it’s easy to forget that when you’re scrolling past thousands of tan and toned women with perfect smiles. I’m not suggesting you give up social media completely, but what I’ve found helpful is unfollowing those accounts which consistently make me feel bad about myself and taking a break from social media altogether when I’m having a really tough body image week.
If you’re still struggling, or just need an added hand, check out Lani Tons’ advice here. And please, never hesitate to reach out.