When you have been born and bred into a society that hails thin bodies as the only acceptable body type, it is difficult to shift this notion when you yourself do not fall within this ‘socially accepted’ body. But society and the media does more than just hail these bodies, it is frequently rammed down our throats every time that we walk the streets, every time that we hit the swimming pool, every time that we ride on public transport, flick through a magazine, watch a music video: all day every day we are fed messages that we are not enough, that we will never be enough. But I am here to tell you that you ARE enough, that these preconceived beauty image ideals are not set in stone and the ‘rules’ can be re-written.
It’s no wonder that so many of us suffer a collapse of self-esteem when we are surrounded by such messages and images. But, there are some negative body image habits out there that we could all break. We all have down days, and there is absolutely no shame in that. But far from letting ourselves wallow in our own negative self-esteem, why not try these 5 things and see if you can banish those bad habits.
HOLDING ON TO THOSE ‘GOAL’ CLOTHES
Buzzfeed recently published a fantastic article about how getting rid of clothes can help you love your body. Arianna Rebolini writes: “I was beginning every single day with a terrible task — facing a closet that told me my body wasn’t right, and choosing which way I’d like to be made physically uncomfortable that day. My clothes were undoing years of work toward accepting my body as-is, coaxing me into old beliefs”. We too are faced with this choice every day; we keep hold of that pair of jeans or this dress hoping and praying that one day we will be thin enough to fit in it once more. ‘Goal clothes’ are further encouraging your own negative image ideals about your own body, for if you can’t fit into these items, then you are somehow less worthy a person. So, as Arianna did, why not go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you, anything that you don’t love, and anything that you’ve had for longer than 3 months and still has the tag on. You’ll find this therapeutic, you might even make some money if you sell on your old clothes, and with that money you can treat yourself to a whole new wardrobe that FITS you and WON’T make you feel bad about yourself.
I know what it’s like to live and question your every movement. Growing up, I would question if I looked okay, if people liked me, if I would fit between the two parked cars, if I was wearing the right clothes, if I was fitting in as the ‘jolly fat girl’, if I was attractive, if I was taking up the right amount of space, if I was brave enough to chat to my crush, if I could have another cookie without being judged, if that photo erred on the ‘right side’ of fat, if people were using me, if I was clever enough blah blah blah the list goes on. One of the best things that I try to do every day is stick a lollipop in the mouth of that little voice in my head and sending it off to the naughty-step – and it is incredibly effective. Living with anxiety is hard, but if you can find what works for you when you want a bit of peace and quiet from your internal monologue, then you won’t look back. You don’t need to question your ever movement, decision, the way that you look or how you’re behaving – you are fine as you are, okay?
BREAKING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
A comfort zone is a cushioned, safe place to be – simply put, your well-rehearsed routine provides a state of mental security which minimises stress and increases your levels of happiness. You know exactly what will happen and when, and your boundaries are only pushed as much as you allow them – but what happens when you let your guard down and the unknown in? I try to push myself outside of my comfort zone and it can prove to be an awkward (at first) yet ultimately rewarding experience. Since discovering that I am actually able to make my own decisions and go against how society has told me to behave, I have realised that my body does not and should not restrict me if I want to achieve something. You CAN wear that thing you’ve always wanted to wear, you CAN enjoy yourself free from judgement at the beach, you CAN join that yoga class, you CAN go on a blind date, you CAN veer from your comfort zone and do great things, you just need to have some faith in yourself. For some tips on how to break out of your comfort zone, take a look at this fab article.
ENGAGING IN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
We’ve all done it: “I feel so fat and bloated today…”, “I wish I could pull off a dress like that…”, “I wish I looked like her…”, “I shouldn’t eat that…” – the list of negative self-talk quotes is endless, and I can guarantee that there isn’t a day that goes by where some little nugget of negativity pops up in your mind. By allowing these thoughts to filter through, you are further encouraging low self-esteem. Women and men across the world are fed these ideas about themselves, but we forget this one important thing – we are in control of our minds. Only we can decide how we speak and think about our bodies, no matter what we might have been told. Negative self-talk is dangerous and if you entertain it then a breakdown of any positive work will be imminent. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel envious about their attributes, but don’t forget, you too have your fair share of positive attributes – so why not take the time and energy you spend putting others on a pedestal, and put yourself up there instead for a change?
NOT TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF
We live in a fast-past world that is filled with demands. We have to navigate and manage work, the colleagues that we have to forge relationships with, a social life, family, relationships, friends, our hobbies, money, home-life etc etc etc. The list of our responsibilities is pretty much endless, but there is something more important than these that we rarely think about – ourselves. It is not narcissistic or conceited to put yourself first sometimes. The world is stressful, and it is so integral to retain a healthy mindset that we take time for ourselves to indulge in the things that make us happy. If you want to talk a walk instead of doing the dishes, then do it; if you’d rather stay in and pamper yourself than go out drinking, then do it; if you’d rather take a bath than bake a cake, then do it. For goodness sake do what makes you happy, I can’t express this enough, make yourself happy.