You probably heard it all before: how we should love our bodies. Maybe you keep thinking about what Mother Nature hasn’t given you (fuller hair, longer legs) or what you should work on (less weight, more muscle)? Guess what: it’s possible to change what you think when you're looking in the mirror.
1. Think about your 16-year-old self
Get your box filled with old photographs and look at the girl you were. Back then, what did you think while looking in the mirror or standing in the fitting room? Did you compare yourself to your friends, who were all a bit taller, slimmer, had better hair? I bet that looking at the pictures now, you think: I should’ve appreciated myself more, I was far more beautiful than I thought. Imagine looking at this year’s pictures in twenty years. Wouldn’t it be great if, in 2038, you could think of 2018 as the year when you started really appreciating yourself?
2. Look past the looks
Make a list of all the things your body enables you to do. Compare it to a day in bed with the flu: there are so many things you can’t do when you’re sick (or, at least, that cost a lot of effort). Your body is probably able to do most of the following things: take you places, hug, eat and enjoy your food, make love, dance. It may have carried a child, or it will in the future. The list is endless. Why would you just focus on what your body looks like?
3. Turn the mirror into something fun
If you find yourself ignoring the mirror, it’s time to take some measures. Make it a habit to smile at yourself in the mirror. Just like you would when looking a friend in the eyes. Put a nice postcard on the mirror, with a quote that makes you feel strong, or a cute illustration. It sounds simple, but it affects your self image.
4. Ask your friends…
If you really don’t know what makes you beautiful, ask your lover, friends or family. Sure, it makes you feel vulnerable. But your question might be the starting point of a nice conversation that doesn’t just teach you something about you (‘she likes my mouth?!’) but also about your friends, because they will probably tell you about their insecurities. And then you probably don’t know what they’re talking about.
5… but don't attach too much value to others' opinions
Insecurities about how you look often have to do with the way you think others feel about you. A harsh remark about your looks can stick with you for a long time, especially when someone made it at a time when you were insecure. It changes the way you look at yourself. First of all, usually, you don’t know what people are thinking (see #4), but more importantly: it’s not about other people’s opinions. It’s your body, you are the only one whose opinion matters. And although it might sound like a cliché, if you’re happy with your body, you look even prettier.
6. Stop proposing conditions
In the last few years, the body positivity movement has grown significantly. These days, in the glossy magazines, we see models in all kinds and shapes. Hurray for that! Does every body positivity role model make you think ‘it’s great how she loves her body. I will too, once I have…(lost weight, grown muscles, started feeling better)?’ Then, in fact, you’re cheating. Accepting who you are means accepting that you’re not perfect, and knowing that you’re worth it, with every imperfection.
7. Ask for help
It may sound heavy: ask for help. But think of it this way: if you are having a hard time appreciating your body, you’re making things hard for yourself. If someone can help you to change the way you feel when you look in the mirror, why not give yourself that present?
Want to read more?
Instagrammer Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda – a colorful explosion of curvy girl pictures, fun illustrations and inspirational quotes) wrote a wonderful book on how to love your body: Body Positivity Power – How to stop dieting, make peace with your body and live.
Text: Dorien Vrieling