With so much upheaval going on in the world at the moment we all need a little bit of positivity in our lives. Unfortunately for many, they see body positivity as something unattainable or even more stressful and upsetting than their low self-esteem. This is unsurprising really when we are taught from day one that we will never be good enough. Body positivity is different for everyone and is definitely achievable. This post just outlines some of the stages and things I’ve done as part of my journey. It won’t be the same for everyone but I hope it’ll help those who don’t know where to start.
One of the key goals of body positivity is letting go of society’s beauty ideals. Often it’s easier to let go of these standards for other people than it is for yourself. This is something that we tend to struggle with across the board, whether it comes to appearance, grades in school or the tidiness of our home we tend to set “higher standards” for ourselves. Things that we wouldn’t judge another person for, we often internally berate ourselves for. Despite this, even letting go of beauty ideals for other people is still a massive, positive step forwards. From there it becomes easier.
The “easiest” ways to boost your self-esteem and body image is to stop comparing yourself to unattainable ideals and other people. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say. If you walk in to any shop and look at women’s magazines, every cover will feature a headline advertising the latest diet craze and in some cases will even go as far as comparing celebrities’ beach bodies. It is little wonder that so many of us feel self-conscious! I stopped reading these magazines and feel so much better for it, not only has it freed up money to spend on better things it’s also freed me from the constant cycle of comparison and feeling bad about myself. If more of us would stop feeding the monster that is mainstream media then perhaps real change could happen.
Unfortunately one of the biggest problems you may stumble across on your body positive journey are “energy vampires”, friends, family members and colleagues who drain you of your positivity. They may be diet or appearance obsessed or simply overly negative. It can be very difficult to deal with these people but I do have some tips. If you can’t completely avoid them you can try to guide the conversation away from topics that are toxic to your journey. If you’re feeling particularly brave you could explain to the person why certain topics are off-limits. If you’re doing the latter, unfortunately you do have to pick your battles. Not everyone is understanding, and if you’re struggling it can be a very difficult conversation to have but in a lot of cases it can be really helpful. Many of my friends who I didn’t expect to be amenable have now come round to body positivity and that is very rewarding in itself.
On a physical level, in order to embrace your body, it’s important to give up on dieting. That’s not to say you have to live on junk food (obviously if that’s what makes you happy then you go right ahead), but giving up on fad diets, constantly striving to lose weight and “tone up” will only hold you back. By their very nature these diets and products are being sold to fuel low self-esteem and self-worth. It’s a vicious cycle to get trapped in. Your life won’t be better if you have visible abs, or you fit in to that size 10 dress in your wardrobe, you will still have bills to pay and your problems won’t instantly disappear. Letting go of the notion that if we lose 10lbs our lives will be better is one of the most cathartic steps of this journey.
The body positive journey is different for everyone who undertakes it. We all have different hang ups to start with but the key thing is to learn to love ourselves exactly how we are at this point in time, not when we lose weight or tone up – right now!
P.S. Let me know about important stages in your journey in the comments.