How you feel about your body has probably changed considerably over your lifetime. Young children tend to view their bodies as strong and fast and powerful. Oh, to have the body confidence of youth. Teenagers tend to be more critical of their bodies, judging them on how they look rather than what they can do.
Then come the gossip magazines, airbrushed celebrity photos and the soul-destroying habit of comparing our worst bits to somebody else’s showreel. The media portrayal of women’s bodies becomes our inner voice, and before long, we are criticising even the smallest imperfections.
A lot of us have a complicated relationship with our bodies. It is not as simple as the Marmite love/hate divide. Perhaps you love some parts of your body but hate others. Or maybe you’re not crazy about how it looks, but will always respect it for carrying your children or overcoming cancer. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about your body. A lot of your feelings are probably unconscious, you may not even be aware of them, but they are there, influencing your daily life.
Do I have low body confidence?
You may not even realise how negative your self-image is, especially if the thoughts have become second nature to you. If you want to test how you feel about your body, try this little task. Write ten words that describe your body on a piece of paper. Take a look at them. Have you used mostly positive or negative words? Have you focused on how your body looks or what it can achieve? This simple tool can help you to explore your feelings around your body. If you think it’s highlighted a problem, now is the time to fix that.
Some people seem to have buckets of body confidence, but how do they do it? And, most importantly, how can you get some of it? Firstly, you won’t change how you feel about your body overnight. It will take time and effort to change how you think about your body. However, it is possible, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap the rewards.
Here are 7 easy ways to improve your body confidence:
1. Curate your social media feed
This is easy to do, and you can start right now. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes to your inner voice. Firstly, every time you see a post that makes you feel bad about your body, hit the unfollow button. If it’s somebody you know in real life and feel unable to unfollow, hide their posts instead. Getting rid of body negativity will help you to hush your inner critic.
Once you’ve got rid of all the influencers making you feel rubbish about yourself, seek out some people who can do the opposite. There are lots of fantastic campaigners using their Instagram squares to promote body positivity. Seek out these influencers and give them a follow. Those daily reminders that you are more than your body will help to reprogramme your self-view.
2. Focus on what your body does
We tend to focus on how our body looks and not what it can do. Forget what it looks like; spend some time focusing on the amazing things it can do. Think about its speed, strength and power. When you exercise, don’t think about how many calories your burned, instead celebrate how hard your body worked and what it achieved during your work out. Stop listing the things your body can’t do, and instead think about the things it can. After a few weeks of doing this, you may find you have a newfound respect for your amazing body.
3. Find out who you are
You are not your body. You are a person, a great person, who happens to have a baby. Grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you are. Are you a good friend, a caring mother, a maths whizz or do you make people laugh? Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself and stick it up somewhere you will see it every day. The more you read this list of things to like, the more positively you’ll feel about yourself. You are a wonderful person and the sooner you admit that, the better.
4. Don’t look at the number on the scales
Yes, it’s good to be healthy, but your mental health is important too. If the numbers on the scales are making you feel awful about yourself, stop looking at them. You are more than those numbers, so much more. If you want to improve your health, you can do this without the help of those scales. You can run and walk and dance. You can move in ways that feel good, without ever looking at the numbers that make you feel bad.
5. Take care of your body
One way to influence how you feel about your body is to take care of it. Stop mistreating it or forgetting about it altogether. Treat your body like it is one of your best friends. Don’t say anything unkind about it. Lift it with words and praise. Take it for a spa day, treat it to a massage, or simply run it a nice, warm bubble bath at the end of a hard day. Start being kind to yourself each and every day.
6. Dress to impress
It’s all too easy to hide a body you don’t love in drab clothes. Throw open your wardrobe doors and pick out your most colourful, fun items of clothing. Your body is beautiful, and it deserves to wear clothes that shimmer and glitter and light up rooms. It might sound silly, but the way you dress can impact on your general mood. If you dress confident, you may just find that you feel more confident. This isn’t about looking sexy; it’s about having fun. Wear bright colours and loud prints, whatever makes you smile when you see your reflection in the mirror.
7. Strike a pose
Yes, it’s time to get in front of the camera. I know you hate photographs. You haven’t got any makeup on, and you’re wearing rubbish clothes, and you don’t look your best. It doesn’t matter. Get in front of the camera and smile. Get in the group shots on nights out. Make sure you’re in all the family photos. If you hate photographs, don’t look at them. Hide them away in a box high on your wardrobe where they can’t bother you. Then one day, in the future, when you are old and grey, you can look back at them and remember how young and strong and healthy your body once was. You won’t regret being in those photographs, but you might regret not being.
If you are working on your body confidence, share some tips in the comments!