So accustomed are we to talking about ourselves with a razor-sharp tongue that we forget to spare a kind word every now and again. When we speak negatively about ourselves we are only perpetuating an already toxic culture and advocating the negative sense of self that so many of us have come to learn. Do we not have enough unfavourable body conversation thrown at us by the media, by advertisements, by social media popularity, by trolls and bullies? Why do we feel the need to continue with the barrage of insults when in the privacy of our own minds? This bombardment that we receive every day is enough to make even the most confident of people have a crisis of self-esteem: if the media isn’t commenting on our bodies, then it is focusing on our hair, our faces, our gender and sexuality, our eating and exercising habits. So how is it possible, you might ask, to summon up the inner strength to find peace in and love for your own skin when it’s all you can do to look in the mirror without wincing? Not only that, but how can you start a positive conversation with your body?
Be patient with yourself.
Often, when we are told that we aren’t good enough we tend to fall at the first hurdle and fail to get back up for another go. But you must be patient with yourself – give yourself a second, third, fourth chance, give yourself as many chances that it takes until you feel that you’re on your way. When our bodies and appearance are so intensely scrutinised we can hardly expect a better sense of self-worth to drop in our laps apropos of nothing, it needs to be worked for. Given the choice, I’m sure that you would have never allowed a negative sense of self-confidence to become a part of your mentality, but sadly, it is bred into us by society. This hateful approach to our own appearance is something that we have to unlearn and unfortunately that will take some time, you might never come to a fully realised sense of body love, but if you’re constantly on your way there, then that’s okay too. Patience is the key, you might look at yourself one day and feel on top of the world, but the next day you might catch yourself off guard and dislike what you see, and you know what? Both of these scenarios are okay. You’re fully entitled to choose how YOU want to feel about YOUR body, and embarking on a journey of radical self-love is often a learning curve for many and these learning curves rarely come without an obstacle or two to overcome.
Be resilient in the face of adversity.
Our culture is governed by a set of invisible rules about appearance and what makes someone an ‘acceptable member’ of society, and throughout your life I’ve no doubt that you’ve come to understand your ‘failings’. But who prescribes these ‘failings’? Not you, that’s for sure. We are so well acquainted with the things about ourselves that aren’t deemed as attractive or appealing qualities by society that we have forgotten how to do anything but internalise these hateful and ignorant assumptions. One of the most pivotal moments for starting a positive conversation with oneself, can be alluded to standing up for yourself. As soon as you challenge a bully or show indignation at the way you have been treated, the power changes hands – if you make a stand for yourself and prove that you can both talk the talk and walk the walk, you will feel indefinitely stronger than you have for a long while. Filtering out the negative things that you have internalised and replacing them instead with positive and empowering conversation created by you and no-one else, will grant you liberation from the mental chains that have so far eluded you. Find the strength to be resilient in the face of adversity and you’ll soon be able to reap the rewards of a positive outlook when you succeed.
Recognise that your worth is not defined by your appearance.
Retrospectively, you can see how growing up we have been encompassed by images about what breeds success. Often, these images focus on appearance and how your worth in society hinges on how attractive you are; sadly this ‘attractiveness’ is prescribed by a society that favours slim, white women and men with Westernised facial features. These are the people who are the most successful in the workplace, who collect their achievements harder, better and faster than others around them, who are favoured on social media and who are pioneered as the ‘goals’ for so many young men and women. But ask yourself this – does your appearance really define your worth? Does this collection of bones and skin and atoms and fat and hair and muscle really explain who you are and what you are able to do? I’d say that the answer is an unwavering no. The last thing that matters when it comes to personal worth is the way that you look. The derivation of what makes you you is not your waist size or the quality of your hair or whether your teeth are white enough – your quintessential attributes are ascertained by the things you say and do, your beliefs, your arguments and loves, the experiences you have been through, the things you have achieved and overcome, your passions and hates, your relationships, your accomplishments and failings, your life. So never let yourself be defined by your appearance, for that is only one element of what makes you exist.