The way you feel about your body changes over time. Young children tend not to focus on how their body looks, but on what it can do. Then, with the onset of puberty, the insecurities set in, and only deepen during the trials of adulthood, childbearing, aging, and illness, with a little help from unrealistic media portrayals.
For many, negative self-image is second nature, with the idea of feeling good about your body seeming as fanciful as attaining the physique of Brad Pitt or Pamela Anderson. But it is possible to rediscover that lost confidence of youth; it just takes some time and work.
Follow this simple guide to feel more confident in your body.
Focus on what your body does
Rather than focussing on what your body looks like, train yourself to focus on what it is capable of.
When you exercise, instead of focussing on how many calories you’ve burned, marvel at the power and stamina you’ve displayed. Take advantage of that strength to travel greater distances and tackle greater physical challenges.
It may be that, due to age, illness, or disability, your body has greater limitations. But no body is powerless, and all goals you set for yourself should be tailored to you, not the dream version of yourself.
Don’t forget to celebrate past achievements as well. If you’ve given birth or overcome illness, that is astounding. Anybody which has taken you through those challenges doesn’t deserve your hate.
Discover who you really are
You are not your body. It may be frustrating that your body doesn’t reflect the person you are inside, but that person still exists, and deserves better than to be hidden away by shame.
None of the people who love you do so because your body looks a certain way. They love you because you’re funny, or caring, or a music lover, or a great parent. Make a list of 10 things that define you which have nothing to do with your body, to begin to feel more positive about yourself.
Take care on social media
Social media is a minefield of unrealistic aspirations, unverified pseudo-science, and subtle shaming.
Thankfully, you can curate your profile to make it a safer space. Whenever you see a post that makes you feel bad about yourself, hit unfollow or hide. Then seek out joyful, funny, and inspirational profiles and campaigners to replace them. You’ll be amazed at how much friendlier your inner voice becomes.
Throw the scales away
You can be healthy and beautiful at 8 stone, and you can be healthy and beautiful at 18 stone. The only thing the number on the scales indicates is how much you weigh, not your attractiveness, and certainly not your worth.
If you’re living a healthy lifestyle with enough exercise and nourishing food, then the number on the scales is completely meaningless. Throw those scales away to stop yourself obsessing over something so trivial.
Dress for yourself
There are no rules when it comes to who can wear what fashions. Instead of hiding behind shapeless clothes and ‘safe’ colours, allow yourself to experiment, and discover what styles make you feel both comfortable and sexy, and give you a greater sense of who you are.
Take care of your body
Your body works hard for you, so stop treating it like an enemy, and start treating it like your best friend.
Say nothing bad about it, even in your head, and instead reward it with a spa day, a massage, or a warm bubble bath. Treat it, and yourself, with kindness.
Loving your body takes time and work. But sometimes it’s only one particular area that’s making your life miserable.
If you truly can’t stop yourself from hating your body thanks to a single flaw, then there’s no shame in seeking professional help, such as that offered by London’s Centre for Surgery. Do what will make you happy, and book a consultation.