In a world obsessed with beauty we sometimes need reminding that outward appearance says nothing about a person. Don’t fall victim to the television commercials and magazine ads that tell us to be accepted, we need to be beautiful.
Being #bodypositive is a trending topic on social media today. This encouraging wave of positive self-talk has been a much-needed change in our vanity consumed culture.
Many of us are not only insecure about our physical appearance, but are consumed with negative feelings about our weight, our acne, our frizzy hair, our lack of breasts, our cellulite… the list is endless and vastly different for every person.
When insecurities turn to obsessions, the emotional effects can be extreme and dangerous. Depression, severe anxiety, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts can result from what started as an insecurity about physical appearance.
At the time of my deepest insecurities about my appearance, I would have been so thankful for someone to remind me that only a very small part of what makes me who I am is found on the outside of my body.
Physical beauty is something that we all love to witness, and there is nothing wrong with pretty people being featured in magazines, or in the movies – in fact, I love to appreciate good looking people.
Successful Personal Trainer and role-model, Kaisa Keranen is a leader in the fitness industry today. She is an advocate for fitness, health, and body positivity.
In an interview on this topic she said, “Strong is beautiful now and that’s fine, I am grateful for that… but at a certain point in time we could flip back five years from now and skinny is the new beautiful, so the way that you view your body can’t ride on the way that the outside world view bodies.”
The problem is that we have all bought into the idea, and bought into it hard, that if we do not look worthy of a magazine cover, we aren’t beautiful at all.
That’s a lie!
Compare and Despair
Feeling badly about ourselves when we see attractive people also leads us to be hateful or unkind to them because they look the way that they do. Saying passive-aggressively mean comments to someone that are disguised as a compliment is a product of our own insecurities about ourselves.
Not only does it not help the root of the issue going on inside of our own hearts, but it is hurtful to the person that you are talking about.
There is no way know what each of us is struggling with internally and throwing daggers at one another is not going to help us all grow to see our own bodies as the unique and exquisite pieces of art that they are.
Don’t buy the lie
You are you. Your hair, your skin, your stretch marks, your freckles, your bumps, your scars, your curves, all the sags, bags, lines and crevices, all of it is yours and only yours. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that it isn’t enough, or that you need to change.
So much of the beauty industry is based on using shame to sell products – you are too thin, too fat, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale. Consequently, each and every one of us falls short of the beauty bar that has been set at an impossible height.
The reason most American women now shave their legs is because in the mid-1910’s, razor companies wanted a wider marketing base than just men. So, they began to run ads that told women they were disgusting and would end up alone forever if they had hairy legs, using phrases like, ‘a solution to an embarrassing problem’.
Single women began to shave because they didn’t want to end up alone, and married women started to remove their hair so that their husbands would not be disgusted by them. It caught on so well that now almost 100% of women in the US shave their body hair in some capacity.
I have been shaving since I was in my early teens. I don’t plan to stop shaving even after learning why I was conditioned to do so, but it does make me think about it every time I grab my razor.
My point in mentioning this fact is to say that the standards that we are conditioned to believe might not be as straightforward as they appear.
There is nothing wrong with following a fashion or beauty trend, but we all might want to take a step back and remember that we have nothing to be ashamed of if we don’t happen to fit into them at any given time.
The beauty standard is constantly changing and not always for the right reasons. For any of us to determine that we aren’t up-to-par because we don’t fit into that standard is foolish.
Every minute you wish you were them, is time wasted on your own life
Can you recall who you were before others told you who you should be? How often do you use personal put-downs?
Even when not spoken out loud, our negative self-talk can be doing a great deal of damage to our emotional wellbeing. Many of us experience a high level of adverse thoughts when it comes to our bodies, our weight, our clothing, etc.
We tell ourselves that we are unattractive and look at ourselves with distain or even shame. This way of thinking very quickly leads to tunnel vision on your flaws.
You soon stop thinking about the things that you enjoy, about the other people in your life, and about your own happiness. Your mind becomes obsessed with your dissatisfaction of the body you are living in.
Negative thinking attracts negative results. Much of our negative thoughts stem from comparing ourselves to other people. We are envious of someone else and think less of ourselves because we aren’t like them.
In today’s world, Instagram influencers flood our phone screens with images of perfect people with perfect hair, skin, and bodies. It is easy to believe that their lives really look as perfect as their Instagram filters make it seem.
The truth is that they also breakouts, have bad hair days, and gain unwanted weight, they just might not post pictures of it. That person that you are idolizing from afar might even be struggling through their own body image issues.
They might be obsessing about someone else’s looks or about their own flaws. You will never find a point of true satisfaction about your appearance if you are always trying to keep up with everyone else. That kind of pressure can, and does, cause some serious mental health issues.
Self-deprecating thinking can begin to work its way into our minds and spread like venom if we don’t make an effort to regulate it. We often allow ourselves to think things or say things about our bodies that we would NEVER say about anyone else’s.
Start to be more aware of the self-talk that you are allowing. When you notice that you are feeling self-conscious or undesirable, pull your thoughts back and try to evaluate why you are feeling this way. Be defensive of yourself and of your thoughts.
Don’t let negative self-talk go on long enough to change the way that you think of yourself.
Love your body
When you give your body what it needs, all that love comes right back around. Healthy, non-processed foods, lots of water, and regular exercise all work at a cellular level to keep your body working at its highest capacity.
Choosing healthy options isn’t always easy, but a change to a healthy lifestyle pays off in so many ways. Not only do you physically feel better, but your brain can function quicker and doesn’t tire as easily. You can physically and mentally get more done – and we can all use that!
Beginning to eat healthier doesn’t mean that you have to cut out all of the foods that you love. It just means taking a look at what you eat regularly and balancing the good with the bad.
Instead of always feeling guilty about the unhealthy foods that you are eating, try to kick start your healthy eating by thinking about all of the things you should be eating that are good for you.
The average person isn’t drinking nearly as much water as they should be. The effects of minor dehydration may not seem to be significant, but so many of our ailments can be cured with just a few more sips a day.
Make it easy for yourself and keep a water bottle with you at all times. You might be surprised at how easy it is to drink throughout the day without really thinking about it.
Try swapping out one of your other daily beverages for water instead. Juice, coffee, sports drinks, and soda can all be adding unnecessary sugar to our diets and they don’t do a good job of hydrating our bodies.
Keep your body moving and active. It doesn’t matter what you do but find something that keeps you exercising regularly. Everyone should be getting their heart rate up at least 5 days a week. Getting fit should not be about vanity, or about working out until you look like a fitness model.
Fitness and healthy eating should be about taking care of your body because you love it, not punishing your body because you hate it.
Love your looks
Love your body through all of life’s changes. You don’t have to immediately run to your full-length mirror and begin to love the way that you look naked.
Body distortion issues are very common, and we all might be struggle with this in some way or another. So many of us are waiting to love our bodies until we lose weight, tone-up, get botox, or whatever it may be.
We need to work on loving our bodies exactly how they are in this very moment.
Even if not for yourself, make an effort to change these unhealthy mindsets for the sake of those who might be looking to you and learning from you. Even if you aren’t saying negative things around them, your kids, your friends, your nieces and nephews, or your partner can pick up on your true feelings about yourself.
Instead of contributing to a society of self-loathing and negative body image, let’s become examples of self-acceptance and healthy living. Let’s help each other out and create a healthier, happier future for kids growing up in this world. Let’s teach them to celebrate their bodies for all their differences and not to criticize them for their perceived flaws.
Being body positive is so much more than posting Instagram photos of yourself in a swim suit. Sure, there are some great body positive sites that inspire, but it’s more than that. It is about recognizing that your body is going to go through changes and phases throughout your lifetime, and not one of those phases in particular can define you as a person.
Beauty trends will come and go, but you will always be living in the body you are in now and it deserves your full respect. No one is immune to feeling insecure about physical appearances, but we all need to be better warriors for our mental health and the mental health of those around us.
Beauty can be celebrated without being worshiped or idolized.