By Morgan Sloss
Over the past few decades, personal scrutiny has intensified amidst photo-shopped, airbrushed, and otherwise unrealistic portrayals of bodies in the media. Pop culture, advertisements, and mainstream music have objectified female bodies to the point of dehumanization. Women are incessantly bombarded with filtered and edited pictures through social media. All of this has resulted in the plummeting of self-esteem in women across the globe. According to one study, a staggering 89% of women indicate a significant desire to lose weight. Participants were asked if they would be willing to trade three years of their lives for their ideal weight goals; 24% of women said yes.
These shocking results led researchers to a disturbing conclusion: “a significant minority of you believe life is worth living only if you are thin.” To ensure that you are not of the many who would forfeit years of their precious lives to lose weight, make the decision today to implement some of these methods of self-love. Experiment with different ways until you find what speaks to you. Once you find your favorite ways to practice body positivity, stick with them until self-love turns from a forced habit to a lifestyle.
It’s crucial to find a daily mantra that works for you that you can repeat when times get tough. Self-love should not be conditional upon an ideal weight or any specific beauty goal. Remind yourself every day that you love yourself, you are enough, and you respect and honor your body. Discovering, sticking with, and believing a daily mantra results in improved body image. It can be exceedingly helpful to have a familiar mantra when your body or circumstances are changing. Here are some suggestions:
Rather than obsessing on what your body does not do for you, focus on what it does do. Consciously set aside any thoughts that your body might make you unworthy or unlovable in order to make space for blissful gratitude. If your body is maintaining your health, say thank you. If your body allows you to earn a living, say thank you. If your body offers you the miracle of motherhood, say thank you. Thank individual body parts for the roles they play. Thank your body as a whole for allowing you to live this beautiful life.
Personally, I find appreciation to be most heartfelt in the morning. As soon as I wake up every day, I tell my significant other three reasons why I am thankful, and he offers me three gratitudes in return. This exchange of positivity and gratefulness is a lovely way to wake up, and it’s far easier to maintain good vibes and self-appreciation if that’s all you’ve experienced that day.
Did you know that studies show that 70% of our mental chatter is negative? We would never hurt our best friends with harmful or derogatory words so why do we do it to ourselves? According to Psychology Today, “negative attitudes that tend to directly impact body image are perfectionism, comparing, and becoming highly critical or judgmental.” It’s time to finally ditch these negative attitudes. The next time you catch yourself criticizing your body, pause, take a deep breath, and purposefully replace that negativity with a genuine compliment.
Your stretch marks are not imperfections; they tell a story of resilience and are part of your journey. Your thighs are not fat; they are strong, capable, and allow you to travel the world. Your arms are not too skinny; they allow you to pick up a child or hug a loved one. You get the idea. If you’re feeling particularly self-doubting and cannot think of a positive substitute to replace the negativity towards a particular body part, just say something nice! Compliment something you do like, tell yourself you are beautiful or remind yourself that you are so much more than just your body. The point of this exercise is to rewire your brain to speak positively to yourself.
Comparing yourself to computer-altered images of women on the covers of magazines can be devastating to your self-esteem. Even comparing yourself to friends, co-workers, and strangers can get you down. Once you decide that you’ll no longer compare your body to anyone else’s, it’s a matter of catching the comparisons and replacing them with positive thoughts. For example, if you find yourself wistfully staring at the [insert whatever body part here] of the lady next to you in line, consciously stop the jealous thought in its tracks. Remind yourself that other women’s bodies are none of your business. Remember that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. You are the only you in the world! Your body, your story, and your soul make you absolutely unique. Don’t waste your only opportunity to be you by wishing you were someone else.
This article was originally published on Witted Roots.