Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others. – Oprah Winfrey
Society and social norms seem to play a huge role in the way we see ourselves, and our body. How we “really look” and how “we think we look “can be two very different things. This happens because, as humans, we need other people to be able to know ourselves. This “mechanism” is called mirroring and it isn’t limited only to human species. Animals use it to learn most of their skills and position themselves in their respective groups (1).
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
We “create” a large part of our identity and self-image by mirroring a.k.a observing and imitating others (2). Can you imagine what happens when we use actors, models, singers and other celebrities as a norm?
If we compare ourselves to “ the World’s famous”, it would be fair to keep in mind that they have a whole team to support their glamorous appearance. These celebrities have a different lifestyle than ours. They have the time and money to invest in looking good that we simply don’t (3).
Do you compare yourself with celebrities?
Stopping that behavior can make space for a kinder, braver version of yourself.
We work so hard to be “perfect” just to feel barely acceptable
It’s needless to say that any kind of comparison is very damaging to our self-esteem and leads to a distorted view of our own bodies, making us dislike and hate our shape (4). It’s remarkable to see how many people worry about their appearance and put their bodies on extreme diets, insane exercise routines, and into uncomfortable clothes just to get an inch closer to “the norm”.
“Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up.” Meryl Streep
In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.
Daring to accept yourself as you are while still being open to growth takes guts. To love your body as it is, and still be willing to invest and care for your appearance might be the bravest thing you can do. It takes courage to decide to step out of “the body rat-race” and let go of the “image” of how you should look in order to be loved, good enough or successful.
Chances are you’re already loved, good enough and successful but you are too busy “chasing perfection” (impossible standard) to notice (5). What you can do, in this case, is slow down, decide to be kinder to yourself and start implementing some daily self-care practices that will help you fall in love with yourself and have lasting confidence.
4 Brave Daily Practices for Learning to Love Your Body
1. Dare to Slow down with Social Media
It can be very tempting to compare yourself with people on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media channels (6). And yes, on Tinder too. Be careful of the moments in which you are feeling particularly low in yourself. In such times, some of us are guilty of browsing through the highlights of other people’s life. Especially if we decide that those other people look better than us.
Do we ever stop to think how all the gorgeous women and handsome men posting selfies look in their times of struggle?
Social media does not offer a realistic image of one’s life in its true complexity (7). No media does. What we expose ourselves to is a manipulated, highlighted “snapshot” of other people’s lives that are often a poor representative of the “whole picture”.
Reducing time spent on social media and unfollowing accounts that give you a reason to feel less good about yourself can significantly increase your chance to fall in love with your body. Learning what is good for your and what isn’t is a first step towards learning to love yourself.
2. Dare to Develop a Nourishing Morning Routine
How you start your day matters. It really does.
Start Gently, Listen to your Body
Often in movies, you might see a “hot girl” waking up in the morning and immediately going for a jog. Many magazines advise us to run in the morning. They tell us to wake up at 5am, keep our runners next to our bed and directly rush out to the street.
Result? We barely woke up, yet our heart is already pumping like crazy driven by an eagerness to get into shape. As you can imagine this behavior can bring a serious amount of anxiety, fear and pressure. This pressure, over time, can push us to compensate with comfort food (8). If you aren’t a top athlete whose aim is to peak perform in the art of running, what you can do in instead, in order to nurture your body, is to take a peaceful walk around the block.
Taking a walk can offer you the benefits of exercising and at the same serve as a message to your body. A message saying- I care about you, that is why I won’t push you or abuse you.
Sometimes your body might enjoy some intensive exercise and (activities like hiking, swimming, working out..) and that’s ok too. Listen to your body. As long as you are giving your organism a chance to rest and recover not much can go wrong.
Eat Well, Be Well
Another important part of your morning routine is food. Food is fuel for life, so fuel your body with nutritious breakfast foods that will improve your energy levels and overall health. Set a time for your morning meal and try to stick to it as best as you can- never skipping or seriously postponing it.
If you lack ideas for healthy breakfast you can always check out websites like Pinterest, BCC Good Food, Food Network, etc..
3. Dare to Dress According to the Body You Have Now
If your shape changed over the time it is important to honor your body as it is now. Don’t try to fit your ass in the same pair of jeans you wore years ago when your BMI consisted of only two digits 😀
But seriously, hoping you’ll fit into clothes that are, even, a size too small, means sending a clear message to our body- I hate you and I don’t want you.
Daring to dress the body you have (and not the one you want) will encourage you to feel better about yourself and enable you to find features you appreciate about your shape- instead of fixating on what you dislike or want to change.
4. Dare to Accept, Respect and Honour Other Bodies
One way of cultivating self-acceptance and self-love regarding your body image is to start being more open-minded towards other people’s bodies and shapes. If you measure yourself according to the “impossible standards” chances are that you are judging others the same way. You might be subjective or particularity critical towards other people’s shape, but that just brings on more comparison and pressure (9).
If you find yourself commenting on how others look, their level of fitness of their overall beauty- take a moment to acknowledge that every person has the birthright to look and be as they look and are now. You have the same birthright.
Accepting, respecting and honoring others for their body is the “highway” for your own self-acceptance. Instead of looking for flaws in others or reasons to envy them, why don’t you focus on something you appreciate or find cute? Everyone has something beautiful about their body. Even if it is just a particularly handsome wrist or this warm shade of green in their eyes.
There are few thoughts to keep in mind while learning to fully love your body. One must do with embracing the fact that we are all imperfect. As Amy Bloom said:
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
Show your beauty to the World, join the 30 days of Brave challenge.
Dare to give and receive compliments. Dare to develop a nourishing routine. Be brave and say “ I love you” to your body every day of the week.
30 days of Brave Challenge will keep you committed, connect you to other body lovers, give you tools for self-acceptance and much more.
Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear- Be Brave.