Truth be told, body positivity isn't easy. Regardless of your identity, beliefs, and the people you surround yourself with, finding ways to be body positive can be pretty difficult. It's basically a never-ending fight to take steps to consciously love all parts of yourself — especially parts that are often deemed undesirable or less than beautiful by media and society. This fight is way harder for certain people, though, including anyone who isn't white, cis, slender, able-bodied, or economically privileged. After all, our society seems to give the least encouragement to marginalized groups in the self love department (as well as all departments, really).
If you're lucky to have enough access to the world of body positivity and have been able to cultivate this well fought for self love within yourself, then a sincere congratulations to you. Being a body pos warrior is great, and is super healing when it comes to your long-held insecurities about your body. In a way, the act of embracing oneself is sort of like a superpower. Of course, you can't be a superhero every day.
As a huge believer in, advocate for, and practitioner of body positivity, I know firsthand that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you just don't feel body positive. And that's OK.
It's natural to feel triggered by the ableist, racist, sizeist, or misogynistic tendencies surrounding us on a daily basis. However, just like body positivity is a process, finding ways to cope on days when loving yourself is more difficult than usual is also an ongoing process. Here are seven little ways to be more body positive that I, personally, have found helpful when I need reminding of what a powerful self love warrior I am in my everyday life.
1. Don't Get Mad At Yourself
It's easy to get mad at ourselves when we see something we think represents "moving backwards" in terms of our personal progress. You may be body positive, but you're still human. Being body pos involves having lots of self-aware conversations with yourself about your body. Sometimes our wires get crossed and we forget to check in with our bodies, failing to recognize the simple fact that we should love them. However, that doesn't mean we're losing any of our progress.
Unfortunately, the world is still a cruel place for many people. Remember to be soft and forgiving with yourself, and above all else, never scold yourself for not being able to feel body positive.
2. Look At Yourself In The Mirror
When I'm feeling body negative, looking in the mirror actually helps. If I'm feeling extra daring, direct vocal compliments at my reflection are also a treat. I end most of my nights with this practice, as both a preventative measure and to provide myself with a blanket of self love before hitting the hay.
It's also helpful to spend time with and look at your naked body. Usually, the negative way I'm thinking about my body is exaggerating my features and my insecurities to epic proportions. Sometimes, just exposing that part of my body to look at for myself (no more mind games) helps me realize that I do, in fact, love what I see.
3. Write Down The Things That Are Beautiful About Yourself
Even when I'm feeling body negative, I know deep down that I'm beautiful and I recognize the parts of myself that are deserving of love (ahem, all of them). I find that by trying to make a list, I can come up with a million different things I actually like about my body and more. I know what I love about myself, I'm just not always feeling it. By writing it and reading it back, I can get a bit more in touch with the body positive foundation I've built.
4. Recite Your Positive Affirmations
For general body pos, self love, and anxiety purposes, I keep a set of self affirming personal mantras that I try to recite to myself on the daily. The phrases include things like, "I am worthy of receiving love," "I have time for myself and I always will," and, "I am beautiful, confident, and capable."
Recently, I've written them down on paper hearts that my sister cut out for me this last Valentine's Day, and hung them around my room. When I'm feeling low, I read all of the hearts aloud, and I feel more whole and body positive again. Even if I don't believe what I'm saying at first, I say them anyway.
5. Do Something Goofy
Sometimes you just have to shake the body negative thoughts off... literally. Dancing around to your favorite music in your underwear is a great way to expel negative energies. When I force myself to do this, I don't often feel it at first as I monotonously sway back and forth. However, if I keep at it for a while, I end up watching myself dance in the mirror, breaking out the silliest of moves, and singing along loudly. Once I get to laughing and noticing how great my ass looks when I move my hips around, I loosen the body negative grip and deliver tons of smiles to myself.
Note: Taking goofy selfies can also be helpful. It has the same effect that looking and laughing at yourself does, but with the added bonus of being able to cherish that moment in time forever.
6. Show Your Body Some Love
When I'm not feeling head-over-heels in love with my bod, I love taking a bubble bath, playing some jazz (my fave), and sipping wine. This is 100 percent "indulging in luxury" time, and it's such an awesome reminder to my body that it deserves to be loved and taken care of. Even just lovingly stroking my body or putting lotion on myself are small but effective acts of self love that help me see my body for what it is more clearly (beautiful).
Masturbating is another way I show love to my body, as it reminds myself how great my my bod and its ability to orgasm really are. Doing yoga stretches specifically for my back problems (and then feeling the effects of a less stressed back afterwards) is also a great reminder of all the wonders my body is capable of.
7. Know It's OK To Feel Insecure Sometimes
If nothing is making much of a difference, let yourself feel the feelings. Many of us are taught to sweep our emotions under the rug because they're "not important" or because "you can't be strong and simultaneously feeling pain." You are a strong body pos warrior, though, even when you're down. Your feelings are a part of a valid experience that you deserve to understand.
On occasion, I write down exactly how I'm feeling and talk it out to myself, which helps me identify root causes of the insecurities. I want to better understand my body and the way I think, but I also want to work out the reasons that body positivity is important to me. Try to identify and be at peace with your reasons. Knowing your insecurities and acknowledging them when they arise doesn't make you any less of a body positive person. In fact, by being open to vulnerability, maybe you can become stronger still.
When all is said and done, just remember to keep fighting that body pos fight. It's perhaps one of the most important things we can do to change our lives for the better.
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Images: Meg Zulch