You probably know that many people—women and men and girls and boys of all ages—feel pretty bad about their bodies much of the time. If you are one of these people, you have the power to change your body image and move it in a more positive direction. As part of YouBeauty’s Confidence Project, here are the guidelines for a three-step body-confidence makeover:
Step 1: Take care of your health.
This step includes all the basic elements of physical self-care: adequate sleep, good nutrition, fitness, medical check-ups, etc. But it also includes emotional self-care, such as avoiding toxic relationships, pursuing a healthy social life and caring for your emotional wellbeing in whatever way is necessary. The most obvious reason for taking care of your health is that you will feel better, be more energetic and maintain a healthy weight. The less obvious reason is that, by taking the time and paying attention to your own basic needs, you are sending your brain a subtle message that you are worth the effort—that you are a valuable, worthwhile person. Striving for good physical health, good emotional health and improved overall self-esteem can boost your body confidence in the process.
Step 2: Make active style choices.
In this context, style refers not only to your fashion choices, but also to your style of self-presentation—your posture, tone of voice, mannerisms and interpersonal approaches. However you decide to present yourself, make sure it is an active decision that you consider and control, rather than something that you ignore, or something that you think is pre-determined. For example, despite the folklore, you don’t actually need to cut off your long hair when you turn 40 or stop wearing bikinis after childbirth. Instead, you need to figure out what works for you and what makes you feel good about yourself. You will feel better if you have fun with your style, making it personalized, flattering and synchronized with how you see yourself as an individual.
Step 3: Revise and filter.
The first part of this step is revising your own perspective on your body. It is very important to keep in mind that your perspective may not fully represent reality, especially if you have been in the habit of finding fault with your body for a while. It will help if you make an active effort every day to identify a few things that you like about your appearance, and to start giving yourself some credit for the good things. In this way, you start sending yourself positive messages and supporting a more positive (and probably more realistic) body image.
Besides revising your own thoughts, it is necessary to filter out destructive messages from other sources. I work with a young woman, Abby, whose parents taught her from a very young age that skinny equals good, fat equals bad, and there is nothing in between. Abby’s mother (whose size 8 body is practically identical to her daughter’s), also made a habit of apologizing to everyone who came to the house for her own (non-existent but perceived) weight problem. Naturally, Abby internalized these parental messages and grew up thinking she was fat and, therefore, bad. My suggestion to Abby that she had both the right and the power to decide for herself whether or not to agree with these teachings was startling to her. You are bombarded with messages from your family, friends, society and the media. You get to choose which ones to adopt for yourself. You also get to choose which ones to filter out and ignore.
You deserve to put time and effort into yourself and your self-esteem, and you have the power to move your body image in a more positive direction.
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