Body confidence is not something the majority of people have nowadays. I mean I may be wrong, but all the research I’ve done says otherwise. How sad is it that we even have to research if people have issues with their own body? The things we have come to.
In honor of National Body Confidence Day being tomorrow, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my struggle with body confidence. It’s something I’ve been debating writing about for months, and I know if I don’t do it now then I won’t do it ever. I haven’t gotten super personal on my blog for months, but that’s what we’re doing today.
I don’t remember ever feeling insecure about the way my body looked until I got to middle school. I mean of course, right? Middle school was when we all went through our awkward years (I’m using the past tense because I’m not seeing any awkward middle schoolers anymore!), and around the time that boys and girls realized the opposite gender doesn’t actually have cooties.
I started to feel insecure because I didn’t look like a lot of other girls at school, specifically the ones that had the most friends and all the guys seemed to be crushing on. The two things I thought were equivalent to being happy, so I thought that if I made myself look more like those girls I would become more likable, to my peers and myself.
Obviously, it didn’t work like that.
Instead, I became so obsessed with looking perfect that every time I looked in the mirror I found something I disliked about my body shape. Even after losing almost 25 pounds, I would still look in the mirror and think I was fat.
Reflecting back on this I realize how insane I was to think that about myself. I was not overweight in any way whatsoever, but I thought I was because I was accustomed to a culture that picked apart women’s bodies and told us we had to be skinny to be beautiful.
I remember going through magazines and not seeing any models that had my body type when I was in middle school and starting high school. Not seeing anyone that looked like me made me think there was something wrong with the way I looked.
I still remember the first time I saw a model with my body type in a magazine. It was Seventeen magazine, and I just remember looking at the girl and thinking, “If I think she’s beautiful and she’s my size, why I can’t I think of myself as beautiful?”
After that, I began to be more loving to my body. I tried to compliment myself, instead of picking apart my appearance every time I walked past a mirror. It was a strange thing to get used to (the fact that I found it strange to compliment myself makes me so angry now), but eventually, it came naturally to me.
Now, there are days where I just look in the mirror like I did before middle school. Just glance at my reflection and continue on with my life. No stopping and thinking, “Ugh, why is my stomach jutting out over my pants?” Or, “My arms are looking a little pudgy.” Or, “Gosh, why can’t my thighs just be skinnier?”
Just a couple days ago I was getting dressed and had put my jeans on, but not my shirt, so my stomach was exposed. Even just a few months ago I would have at least had a negative thought in the back of my mind, but that day I didn’t have any thought whatsoever. I noticed this as I slipped my shirt on, and realized how big of a milestone it was for me. I mean, before this year it has been almost seven years since I could look in a mirror so casually.
This is the part where you think I’m going to write, “and then it was all history! I’m 100% okay with my body now and always will be!”
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I may be much more comfortable in my body now than I was throughout middle and high school, but I know I will still have my bad days. Everyone has those days. But I know that while yes, I do still have my days or moments when I feel disgusting and nowhere near beautiful, I’m so much happier with my body today than I was just last year. Every day I feel more me, more beautiful, and more comfortable in my skin. I know I’ll never be 100% happy with my myself 100% of the time, and that’s okay. It’s not about always being happy, it’s about being positive, and that’s what I strive to be – body positive.
Body Confidence Advice
Now on to the happy part of this post.
The best thing about my struggle is that I have learned how to love myself as who I am, and not what I think, or other people think, I should look like.
Truly believe that you are beautiful
You can’t just expect to love yourself if deep down you don’t love the way you look. One thing I did to get me to where I am today is every night I would tell myself I was beautiful. It may sound like a lie at first, but the more you say it the more it becomes your reality.
Get rid of clothes that don’t make you feel good about yourself
Donating old clothes that no longer fit will relieve a massive amount of stress that you may not even know you had. I was holding on to clothes from my “skinny” days, and it was eating me alive. Up until this past summer, I still had clothes that were up to two sizes too small! I finally donated them this past summer and you have no idea how therapeutic that was for me. Even though I may have never picked them up, or tried them on over the past years, they still silently taunted me from my dresser and my closet. Now that they’re gone, there’s no more telling myself to lose just a couple more inches just to fit into a dang skirt.
Dress for nobody but you
Instead of dressing to impress someone, dress in what makes you feel beautiful and confident. I’ll be the first to admit that I have worn something specifically to get attention from someone. I learned quite quickly that it never works. Like ever. So there I would be wearing an outfit I didn’t even like, and therefore didn’t feel comfortable in, but I had to walk around in all day. What a mood killer right? Now I have certain pieces I can wear on a bad day that add a little extra spring in my step when I throw them on.
Don’t play the comparison game
I know we’ve all heard this one before, but I still know people who haven’t learned to give it up yet. You are never going to look like someone else. Ever. Stop telling yourself you want to have legs like Carrie Underwood, or an hourglass shape like Kim Kardashian, or whatever it is you are comparing. Everyone is born with a different body shape, and it’s practically impossible for two people to look the same. Why would you want to look like someone else anyway? There’s only one you, and just like you can’t look just like anyone else, no one can look just like you. How amazing is that? You should take pride in that alone.
Know there is no such thing as a perfect body
Someone may seem perfect to you, but they may not feel perfect. They may feel uncomfortable in their skin, too. If you approach your own body by trying to make it look perfect, you are never going to be happy because you are always going to find something you wish you could change or improve upon. Instead of focusing on the way your body looks, focus on the way you feel.
Listen to music that makes you feel good
Music has the power to make us feel better, so take advantage of that! Listen to songs that make you happy, or empower you! If you’re looking for some good getting ready or shower jams, be sure to check out the playlist of all my favorite body positive tunes!
Have the mindset of a five-year-old
Unlike us teenagers and adults, 5-year-olds don’t give a crap about what they look like or worry about what they eat. It’s weird isn’t it, though? We go years of our lives not giving a crap about what another kid thinks of us, but then one day we just wake up and take everything so personal. So when you’re stuck in a guilty mindset, think back to when you were little and how you just wanted to enjoy life, not caring if you ate the whole cookie jar, had chocolate stains all over your face, or your stomach was round and you had chubby baby legs.
Know that everything you see is staged or altered
This is something that really helps me. When I’m looking through a magazine, watching a tv show or movie, and I start to compare myself to a girl, I’ll stop myself and think about how they are staged to look nice. Photographers and videographers use the best angle to make models and actresses look their best. If you pay close attention, you’ll see how they actually look more like you than you might think.
No number defines you
Throw out the scale and BMI and body fat percentages. What do they really matter anyways? No one in their right mind is going to turn down dating you because you’re 155 pounds instead of 150 pounds or because you’re 100 pounds instead of 115 pounds. (For all my girls out there who struggle to gain weight.) The right person will love you for your personality, not your weight, BMI or body fat percentage.
Workout to have fun and be healthy
This was one of the most recent things I learned, and I believe has made the biggest difference. After I graduated high school I tried to keep running and weight lifting five days a week like I did during track season and in PE, but I did it more as a chore than to just stay active. Soon I burned out and never wanted to go because my heart just wasn’t in it, but I dragged myself there anyways. It was awful.
The last full month of my freshmen year I just stopped going. I felt so free to not have to worry about making sure I worked out every day. Then I tried a fitness class and fell in love. Now I go to spin every week, not because I feel that I have to, but because I truly enjoy being there! Don’t make yourself run 5 miles if that’s not something you have your heart in. Find something that keeps you active and keeps you happy, and stick to that – not something that’ll burn the most calories.
Related: Don’t Tease Girls Who Spin
Think about what your body does for you
A couple years ago I read about this thought process in a Seventeen magazine. They had interviewed a champion surfboarder who said she always used to be ashamed of how her thighs were bigger than other girls’ thighs. Then she realized that if her thighs were like every other girls’, then she wouldn’t be able to be the extraordinary surfboarder she is. So when you’re feeling down about your body, think about what it does for you. It could be something as simple as allowing you to walk or breathe. There’s always something to be thankful for.
Be nice to yourself
If you aren’t nice to yourself, who will be? Compliment yourself and congratulate yourself for all your wins, no matter how small they may seem.