Ok so disclaimer: if you’re not currently body positive (ie. If you don’t already feel 100% confortable and happy with your body) then it’s gonna take some time to get you there. There is no quick fix for undoing years, decades even, of social conditioning. But don’t let that stop you from embarking on the most important journey of your life! In this blog post I’m sharing 3 steps you can take right now to get off to a really good start and set you up for a body positive 2018!
Step 1. Put the Me in Social Media
We constantly hear about how social media has become the downfall of society. Trolling and online bullying are rife, random scrolling is deteriorating our social skills, the temptation to pop on our phones is weakening interpersonal skills and shortening our attention spans etc. But what if I told you that when it comes to becoming body positive, social media can be your best friend and strongest ally?
When I say “put the me in social media”, here’s what I mean. How much of your social media feeds is actually helping you to become body positive, and how much is getting in your way? Those influencers and bloggers, the ones that make you wish you were prettier, thinner, more “put together”, more successful, fitter, a healthier eater, more stylish, better travelled, what does following them actually do for you? You might think it motivates you. I argue that it disempowers you. Let’s flip that on it’s head and imagine your social media feeds were full of body positive accounts. Imagine seeing men and women of all shapes and sizes and abilities and experiences celebrating their unfiltered bodies every time you popped online throughout the day. Imagine seeing stretch marks and cellulite and rolls of fat and bingo wings and double chins and saggy boobs. At first, those images would probably shock you. I know they shocked me. But begore long, you’d notice yourself becoming desensitized. And slowly but surely, your idea of what’s normal will shift. Out of nowhere, one day you’ll find yourself shocked by how fake the models in the magazines look.
That’s all very well and good, I hear you say. But how does that help me start to love and accept my body? Well it’s simple really. The more often you see bodies like yours, the more relaxed you’ll start to feel about your own. You’ll notice your stretch marks one day and think to yourself, “they’re really not that bad”. Maybe a week or two later you’ll dare to wear something you’ve never tried before, a body con dress or a crop top maybe, and you’ll think to yourself as you look in the mirror “damn, I look good”.
In no time at all you’ll be scoffing at low kcal options and feeling lit AF.
Step 2. Get Naked
When we hate our bodies we go out of our way to avoid them don’t we? Can you remember the last time you stood in front of a full length mirror completely naked? Do you even know what your naked body looks like anymore? Believe it or not, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “yes Sarah, I know exactly what it looks like… a disgusting pile of shite!!!” I understand that reaction.
Don’t forget that I’ve been there, I know how that feels. I know what it is to actually be fearful of seeing your body for the first time in years. It’s bloody terrifying! But it’s gotta be done, so here’s how to ease yourself into it.
Start by spending some time everyday in just your undies and a tshirt. This could be while you’re cooking dinner, it could be watching tv in the evening, it could be when you’re reading your book or on the phone to a friend. It’s ok to be distracted by something. You don’t even need to look in the mirror. This is just about getting comfortable in your skin in your own home. If you house share, stick to your bedroom. Then after a few weeks and once it starts to feel normal, ditch the t shirt. Again, distract yourself by going about your usually routine at home. You’ll catch your reflection in mirrors as you walk around, don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on feeling good moving around in your undies. And when this starts to feel normal, and I promise that it will, you guessed it! Get naked! Now the practicalities of cooking while naked aren’t great, so once you’ve gotten to this level of comfort with your body you can shorten the amount of time spent by as much as you like. Even five minutes a day in the nip will work wonders for your body positivity. You’ll be amazed at just how good it feels to dance around your bedroom in your birthday suit, embracing every wobble, every bounce, and loving the freedom that body positivity gives you! And you’ll be so proud of yourself you’ll want to tell the whole world!
Step 3. Always Affirm
I am a huge believer in affirmations. I wasn’t always. The first time my therapist started talking about affirmations I actually sneered at him. But boy oh boy did I learn fast that not only do they work, but they are absolutely essential to any meaningful personal development.
Affirmations are particularly important when it comes to body positivity for three reasons.
A) they can erase the negative thought patterns that we’ve learned, developed and perfected from childhood that lead us to self criticise.
B) they can replace those old patterns with new ones that encourage us to accept and love our beautiful bodies.
C) we can practice affirmations anywhere, any time, in the company of anyone, and nobody will ever know.
Think of every thought as an affirmation. Every time you think, “I hate my body, I’m so fat, I’d kill to look like her, I’ll never find anyone until I loose weight”, those are all affirmations. You might not mean them to be, but they are. So by choosing to create your own positive affirmations and say them to yourself instead, you push the self hate out and welcome in self love and body positivity instead.
And it’s so spectacularly simple! The affirmations I used worked really well for me, because I timed them to the rhythm of my breath. It went like this:
Inhale: I love myself
Exhale: I accept myself
Inhale: I am enough
Exhale: Pause and repeat
The great thing about timing them to my breath was that I could practice them pretty much anytime I was breathing. So I’d be sitting on the loo, affirming. I’d be walking to the bus stop, affirming. I’d be lying in bed at night, affirming. I’d be doing my groccery shop, affirming. And although it can be slow to get into the habit at first, once you do it is the easiest most natural thing in the world. So much so that I still catch myself doing it unintentionally sometimes!
So for your final step towards a body positive 2018, I want you to start using the same affirmations I did to tackle those negative thought patterns and replace then with buckets of self love instead. Couple this with Steps 1. and 2. and you’ll be a bopo queen in no time!