A woman’s physical appearance is said to be in the top 3 most common insecurities that we have as a gender. In a world fuelled by beauty where every second person is an Instagram model and celebrities are praised for looking 10 years their junior, it is no wonder we focus so much on the way that we look.
My insecurities about my body happened before I can even remember. Growing up as a very thin child, I was a competitive runner and had my growth spurt well before anyone else. In grade 7, I remember sitting on top of the monkey bars, wearing shorts and being made fun of for having long, lanky and hairy legs. That was the beginning of my insecurities and to this day, those insecurities have changed in their form, but have never left me.
In present day, they can look a lot like this: Why don’t I weigh 10 pounds less? Why are my shoulders so broad? Why are my arms so hairy? I catch myself comparing my body to Instagram models and fitness accounts, and I feel bad about myself every time I eat something unhealthy or go out for a night of drinking with friends. I tell myself I will be better next time, that I will stop ‘treating’ myself, that I will just work out everyday this week to make up for it. The struggle isn’t the way I physically look, it is the mental game that I play with myself which ends up being this vicious cycle of negative self doubt.
Now that we know what body negativity is - let's discuss what it isn’t, and how we can all implement small steps to change the way we think and view our bodies and our beauty.
Body Positivity: Being comfortable in your own skin. Knowing your worth isn’t determined by the scale. Understanding that real beauty to it’s true core is a multi-faceted definition made up of many qualities, other than aesthetics.
Beauty: Kindness is beauty. Humour is beauty. Intelligence is beauty. Strength is beauty. Badassery is beauty. Just to name a few.
Having a positive relationship with your body can be challenging, but like any relationship, it takes work, and knowing that there is work to be done is the first step. Today, I have listed below some general buckets of tips on how to adjust your relationship with yourself and ensure that it’s a healthy one.
Health > Dress Size
Understanding that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and to accept yours, but make changes where necessary based on your health is the first step to foster a positive relationship. Some women are a size 0 no matter what they do, and some a 12. There is nothing bad about either of those sizes but you shouldn’t aim to drop 12 dress sizes if you were blessed with natural curves. The reason that you work out more, eat healthier and generally feel better should be based on your health, not on your dress size. When you have a visual of how you want to look, our minds tend to shift and want more each time we lose weight which makes it impossible to attain that image we create in our heads. When I look back on photos of the times I was the thinnest, I never knew it. It's only now, looking back, that I see how small I actually was. This is especially true if you are constantly comparing yourself to others bodies and only satisfied with a number on the scale.
As influencer Kenzie Brenna stated: “Think of exercising as a celebration of the amazing abilities of your body, not as a punishment, because you ate so many calories”.
My tip, workout because you want to and are capable. Eat healthy so you have more energy and have good mental clarity. If you take care of yourself to ensure you are being the best version of yourself, that is when you will be motivated and fulfilled to keep being active. So nourish your body with good food and learn to feel great about yourself both physically, and mentally.
My go to’s: Cooking myself a healthy meal from one of my many cookbooks or food blogs, working out at my favourite gym where I have learned to box and feel strong or grabbing a hot yoga class to recenter my thoughts.
Find a Passion
This could mean a lot different things for range of people. For me my passions are running and writing, for others it could be dancing, painting, reading, you name it! But fostering an overall good relationship with your body also starts at fostering a good relationship with yourself holistically. As I mentioned before, body positivity is all a mental state that we strive to be in and by finding your passion and acting on it, you are only bringing more love into the relationship with yourself. Sometimes at low points with the negative view of my body I wasn’t doing things I loved, I didn’t feel in control and I thought that by focusing all my energy on my physical appearance that I would somehow magically become happy. This was obviously inaccurate. By keeping myself busy with things that I LIKE doing I find fulfillment, joy and contentment. It makes me love myself more and more each day when I dedicate time to myself and I usually end up amazing myself along the way as to how talented I am when I do things that I bring my whole passionate self to.
My go to’s: Going on a long run through one of the many trails in the city solo, trying a new running club or sitting down to write or read curled up on my couch.
Know Your Worth
Understand who you are, what you bring to the table, how you make other people feel, your intelligence, your strength, all of your uniquely amazing capabilities and attributes. We so often put ourselves down when we compare ourselves to others, accept love that is not reciprocated, being spoken down to in our place of work, the list goes on. You can be a kind person but also be strong, strong in the sense that you know what you deserve and you will accept nothing less.
My go to’s: Repeating mantras and setting affirmations for myself, either aloud or in a journal.
Surround Yourself With a Tribe
Lastly - and ladies and gents this is a big one - find those that lift you up, that empower you, that shower you with love and never, ever let them go. Being around people who motivate you and support you and make you laugh and give you love, will only help you continue to grow that positive relationship with yourself because you will constantly be reminded at how amazing, beautiful and great you are. Because that's what tribes do, they build you up and always lend a hand of support to ensure you stay UP.
My go to’s: Always going to new events within communities that I care about to strengthen my connection with my current tribe, and make room for new ones. I make time for my important friendships and put energy into up-keeping and growing them.