Here are 5 things that I feel helped to drastically improve my self-esteem, and more specifically, my body image over the last 3 years.
1. Stop reading fashion magazines/body building magazines/stupid shit that glorifies unrealistic bodies. These are a huge culprit for poor body image. By bombarding you with unrealistic images, it’s easier to sell you things to fix yourself. The continued viewing of these images conditions us into the ideal of the magazine instead of an ideal that is healthy for our various body shapes.
2. Spend time naked. Routinely and as MUCH as you can! It helped me to get comfortable in my own skin. At first it felt awkward, but over the last year, I’ve come to love being naked with myself. Check out your body in the mirror. Don’t criticize, just explore. Identify all of the marks, spots, and bumps that are unique to you.
3. Exercise and eat well. Take care of your body so that it can take care of you. Learn to cook (YouTube has a TON of great tutorials and recipes!) so that you can feed it yummy, healthy foods. Save the salty, sugary, fatty foods for special occasions. These are hard on your body and will make you feel icky. Also strive to get at least a half hour of activity every day. If you’re like me, it helps to change up the activity so you don’t get bored!
4. When you notice yourself making judgment calls about your own body or other peoples’ bodies, step back and think about it. When I first started this, it was a near constant inner dialogue to work through my concepts of bodies and beauty. Consciously correct yourself before you move on. Remind yourself why it’s unproductive to judge, affirm your self love, and set a precedent to be more positive next time. This exercise works to build your self-awareness. The more self-aware you are, the easier it is to let go of the negative influences around you. I think this had the most effect for me.
5. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Get rid of friends that expect you to live up to a certain physical standard and/or judge you for your body – I’ve found these aren’t real friends. They are offering you a relationship contingent on your physical appearance. If you are striving to accept and love yourself, it naturally follows that you need to be in the presence of people who do the same. If you notice your friends being body negative, use it as an opportunity to start a conversation about their judgment. With continued conversation, your friends might hop on board toward a healthier view of themselves and others right along with you! Using a gentle, genuine tone and the right questions, I’ve strengthened a hand full of friendships using these kinds of dialog:
Friend: Wow, look at that cow!
You: Why are you calling her a cow?
Friend: What the fuck is she wearing?
You: What does it matter what she wears?
Friend: Ewww look how little he is!
You: Little compared to what?
Best of luck. <3