Body positivity is the belief that ALL bodies are beautiful.
Sounds simple enough, right? And it is — when we’re talking aboutother people’s bodies, or denouncing the thigh gap. But when it comes to our own bodies, many of us still struggle, partly because we’ve been conditioned to believe that thin = healthy, that the “ideal woman” doesn’t have stretch marks or cellulite, and that a woman’s primary value is dependent on her appearance. And because we live in a society that’s all about winning, succeeding, and being better-stronger-faster — even when it comes to how we feel about ourselves.
You can’t just flip a switch from hating your love handles to thinking they’re the greatest thing ever. It takes practice, and practice, andmore practice. And whether it’s just you and a mirror, or an unintentionally offensive comment from a coworker, there’s gotta be room for us to screw up every now and again. Otherwise we’d all just get discouraged and give up, and cease to learn or grow.
There are three different layers of body positivity — how you relate to your own body, how you relate to other people’s bodies, and how you participate in creating a more body positive culture overall (or not).
We’ve put together five little things you can do every day to up your body pos game on all fronts.Pro tip: It’s not always easy to be kind to yourself, and we live in a pretty triggering world right now. Find one or two go-to strategies below you can turn to when you need a little reminder of h
1) Wear Your Flaws Like Badges of Honor. (Also, Maybe Stop Calling Them “Flaws.”)
You know that weird, deformed toe on your left foot? Or the boob that’s a different size and shape from the other one? It’s time to love the shit out of those things — they make you special. Unique.
Have a conversation with the body parts you usually try to hide. Tell them how much you appreciate and love them, and apologize for thinking bad things about them all the time. You might even try showing them off at parties!
Maybe not the boob, though (unless it’sthatkinda party).
2) Move Away from Weight-Related Compliments
We need to move away from equating thinness with healthiness, or success. And one of the subtle ways to do that is to change the way we give and receive compliments.
Say you’ve got a friend who worked super hard to lose 100 pounds… and she did it! Instead of telling her how great she looks — which is certainly our first instinct, try saying, “Congratulations! You must be so proud of yourself,” or “It’s awesome to see you so happy.”
But what if you’re on the receiving end of such a compliment?
Listen — it’s not your job to educate anyone. And even though these compliments inherently imply that you didn’t look so greatbefore, it’s not necessarily the right time or place to correct someone who (let’s assume) is genuinely happy for you, and trying to express that.
However, there IS an elegant, simple way to thank them, without explicitly acknowledging the weight thing:
“Thank you, I feel great!”
3) Spend Way More Time Naked
Getting naked helps you stay more connected with your body. You can get super intentional with this and spend five minutes in front of the mirror every morning and evening, showering your naked bod with compliments and love — or you can keep it simple, and just take off your clothes more often.
An easy way to start? Ditch your PJs and sleepau naturel.
4) Seek Out What’s Beautiful in Other People, Especially Women
Women have a bad habit of sizing each other up, getting judgy, and making unfavorable assumptions about each other based on appearance. A single woman in a low-cut top and stilettos? Must be tryna steal your man, right? Well, not necessarily.
Next time you see a woman, in real life or on TV, seek out what’s beautiful about her — and if you can, tell her about it. Make it a point to dish out compliments like it’s your job: “You have lovely eyes,” or “I love your purse,” or “Your voice is so soothing to me.”
Body positivity isn’t just about weight, you know. It’s about all aspects of our appearance, and treating ourselves and each other with love and respect. Women have a lot of work to here.
5) Boycott Workout Routines Rooted in Negativity or Inadequacy
Hold on. Our eyes were rolling so hard we lost our contacts.
These types of workouts — usually found in ladies’ health magazines, featuring a set of pink, three-pound dumbbells — all promote the idea that there’s something wrong with your body to begin with, and foster an unhealthy relationship with exercise.
Exercise isn’t about punishing yourself, or fixing some feature you don’t like, compensating for that tray of brownies you dogged last night. The truth is, exercise is just about the most body-positive thing you can do (except, like,really really hot sex). And is it any wonder we have a hard time sticking to our resolutions, when we’re inundated with these negative messages?
Of course, the desire to improve ourselves is part of our nature. And this is where we run into trouble with body positivity — how do you reconcile loving your body as is, with wanting to change it for the better? When does “loving yourself” become an excuse to skip the gym or eat a 5th slice of pizza?
Where do we find the motivation to exercise or change our diets, or the inspiration to keep going when it gets tough?
That’s some serious cognitive dissonance.
To tell you the truth, there isn’t a straightforward, satisfying answer to these questions. But it starts with stepping away from all the external pressures and expectations, reconnecting with your innate goodness and beauty, and sprinkling some of that goodness around wherever you go.
Naked dance parties also help.
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