I’ve been an athlete my entire life. And with that title came a grueling schedule of exercise and diet, which kept me lean and in shape. Because of that, I had all the confidence in the world. Not only was I a great athlete, I had a great body and when you’re young, unfortunately, those are the kinds of things you focus on. Just like most girls, my body started to change when I got into high school. But my body changes weren’t due to puberty or adolescence. I had developed an autoimmune disease that required medication and the medication caused me to gain a severe amount of weight. My body changed in ways I wasn’t prepared for. I lost my confidence. I lost my identity. But what I couldn’t lose was the weight. With the added pounds, I found it hard to feel comfortable in my own skin- I found it hard to be comfortable around my own friends and family. My body looked foreign to me. And to be honest, it took me years to be comfortable with it even when I did eventually lose the weight.
All those years of self-induced body shaming have caused me to become more observant of the way the media portrays the female body. And looking back, maybe it affected the way I looked at my body back then. When you’re that young going through uncontrollable physical changes looking at “perfect” women being portrayed as skinny and tall, having lusciously long hair, and flawless skin, you can’t help but think negatively about your own body, hair, and face. But we, as women, know that most women don’t look like that, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean they don’t think negatively about their bodies either.
Knowing that still doesn’t take away those negative thoughts we have every time we look in the mirror. I try my absolute hardest to stay completely positive throughout the day, but it’s not always possible. When I’m getting dressed, I find it hard to be kind to myself. I’ll think things like, “My hair looks stupid,” “These pants are too tight,” or “You still have those dark circles under your eyes.” And recently I started to think, would I ever say those statements out loud? No. Would I say these things to my friends? No. Have I ever just thanked my body instead of criticizing it? Again, no. So I started to take a different approach to getting dressed in the morning. Instead of focusing on what I don’t like about myself, I focused on what I do like about myself. Instead of focusing on my thighs I thank them for giving me some cushion when I sit. I thank my legs for giving me the ability to run, walk, and dance. I know it’s not always easy to stay positive and to be kind to yourself but in those moments you have to be. You have to look in the mirror and compliment yourself instead of picking yourself apart.
Over the years, I’ve discovered different methods to help bring positive thoughts to my mind. I find that these methods not only help me think positively about my body, but they also help me stay positive throughout the day. I find that if I compliment myself out loud, I start to actually believe what I’m saying. In addition to that, I put positive body affirmation statements on colorful sticky notes around my apartment. Seeing them helps me stay positive with my body image and as a bonus, they help me stay positive throughout the day too!
So try reciting these positive body affirmation statements to yourself everyday. Little by little you will start to believe them. You will look in the mirror and discover a whole new you, the you we admire and love. It’s time your body got some credit for the amazing things it does for you daily. And it’s time you give yourself some credit and start appreciating the beauty you possess as a woman.
Positive Body Affirmations
- “My body deserves love and respect.”
- “My self-worth is not determined by the number on the scale.”
- “I am worthy of love.”
- “It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.”
- “Self-respect is underrated.”
- “Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.”
- “Getting older makes me smarter.”
- “My brain is my sexiest part of my body.”
- “Just because she’s beautiful, doesn’t mean you aren’t.”
- “Workout because you love your body not because you hate it.”
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- Appreciate all that your body can do. Everyday your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you – running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself-things that aren’t related to how much you weight or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not skin deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
- Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, and find a peaceful place outside to relax.
- Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
This article has been brought to you by the National Eating Disorder Association. You can find more information about positive body image on their website (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/10-steps-positive-body-image) or call NEDA toll-free on their confidential helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
Published by Lauren Bruha
Edited by Brittany Priore
Photo Source Sambapitaa