Your body is bangin' — and I mean that in a totally respectful and non-objectifying way. Improving your body confidence doesn't really have anything to do with losing weight or looking a certain way. In fact, you can get a huge boost in your self-esteem without changing your body at all. And we could all use a dose of that. According to the National Report on Self-Esteem, a whopping (and heart-breaking) 98 percent of girls reported that they felt pressure to look a certain way. And 78 percent of girls reported that they were unhappy about the way their bodies look by the time they were 17. Read those statistics again and really let them settle into your brain. It's a tragedy.
We absorb so many messages about what our bodies are supposed to look like, and we rarely ever spring clean them from our brains. Self-esteem is an inside job. And If you want to improve your body confidence, you'll need to change what you're putting in your body in a way that has nothing to do with food. Think of it as creating a safety wall around your fragile but growing self-confidence, and only letting in things that build you up. And remember that improving your self-esteem, realizing your beauty, and owning everything that makes you amazing are revolutionary acts.
1. Do A Little Deprogramming
Listen. Full disclosure, I've spent a lot of time in therapy (no shame in my game) talking about body confidence. And the absolute best, most empowering thing I've ever done for myself was to learn a little thing called media literacy. Media literacy will open your eyes to the fact that what you're taking in is a lot of stereotypes, sexist imagery, and fantasy. You'll train your brain to stop thinking things like "I wish I looked like that," and to start thinking things like, "This isn't a genuine representation of women. This isn't real life." It will change your life.
2. Refill The Well
One of the problems with the media is that it only shows us a small (and I mean small) representation of women. Start paying attention to what the people around you actually look like. Check out hashtags on Instagram like #loveyourself and #allbodiesarebeautiful. There are way more beautiful, confident women who look just like you than you ever realized.
3. Fake It 'Til You Make It
Only say positive things about yourself, even if you don't mean them at first. Ban negative self-talk. This is a powerful exercise. Journal about how awesome you are, and every time the little monster in your head tries to say something negative, picture it getting hit by a bus.
4. Update Your Crew
You are who you hang out with. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. This will have a huge impact on your self-esteem.
Even if you think the media doesn't effect you (it does), you might find you improve your body confidence if you unplug a little. Cut back on screen time. Stop leafing through fashion magazines. Most of my body confidence came from a three-year TV ban. When I started watching TV again, it's alarming how fast I got depressed and slipped back into self-hatred.
6. Think About Your Role Models
Who makes your world go round? You mom? Your grandma? Your boss? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Why? Are they full of self-confidence? Probably. Is it because of how they look? Probably not!
Are you just your body? I didn't think so. Are you smart, funny, strong, talented, compassionate, accomplished, ambitious, or athletic? Give those aspects of your personality more play and you'll naturally get a self-love boost.
8. Skip The Snark
Judging other women leads to judging yourself, period. When you see other women and your mind goes to snarky comments about their faces or clothes, stop yourself. Make yourself see something positive. You can't help create impossible beauty standards and also try to escape them. And when your friends start the snark machine, don't participate. Challenge them to be better.
9. Teach People How To Treat You
If your mom or that friend always mention your weight when they see you, it's OK to shut that down. It doesn't have to be some big, life changing conversation. It can be as simple as "please stop mentioning my weight every time you see me." These kinds of people think they mean well, but any positivity in their message gets smacked down by the shame and self-loathing they stir up.
10. Stop Torturing Yourself
Do you think it's good for your self-image to follow thinspo Instagram accounts or diet Facebook pages? Does it make you fill up with self-love to surround yourself with messages about how you should eat, how much you should be working out, what your eyelashes should look like, what stuff you should buy, or how much better your life would be if you lost weight? Why do we do this to ourselves? Clean out your digital closet and be free.
11. Do More Cool Stuff
Are there things you sometimes do that make you feel like a freaking rock star? Traveling? Reading empowering books? Going to school? Dancing in your underwear while you clean the house? Do more of that.