As someone who's struggled with body image her entire life (or all of the life I can remember), it's been a long journey towards finally living without shame. It's taken me years to learn this for myself, and I decided to share the body positivity lessons I've learned over the years. The sooner you take this in, the sooner you'll leave all that negative baggage in the past!
- Everyone is insecure about their body in some way.
I learned this when I was working in an NYC fashion showroom. It didn't matter if my client was a size two or 22 — every single one of them had that "problem area" that their eye went to first, and almost 100 percent of the time I truly didn't see what they were seeing in the mirror. Does this discount the personal battle that every person has with their reflection everyday? No. But I do think we all could benefit from knowing that we aren't alone in our insecurities, and our biggest insecurities are usually just that: OUR insecurities. No one else is even paying attention — in a good way.
- Follow people on social media who look like you.
I think the first step of my body positivity journey came when I started following curvy girls on Instagram. Sometimes all it takes is seeing people absolutely rock outfits you wouldn't dream of wearing to give you that boost of courage. And you'll learn things you didn't think you would, which leads us to our next lesson.
- Hiding your body in baggy clothing isn't as flattering as you might think it is.
All it takes is a few scrolls through Instagram to see that form-fitting clothes will actually flatter your body! So step away from the billowy fabric and stop wearing those oversize sweaters, especially if you're choosing those clothes out of insecurity. Of course, if you're more comfortable wearing those baggy clothes, as I am, by all means go ahead! But if you're only dressing like that because you don't think you're "fill-in-the-blank" enough to pull it off, then shut out that voice in your head and express your sartorial self!
- Don't assume it's always about you.
Hear me out. We all have those friends or peers who are always talking about their weight, diet, etc. I used to hear people talking like that and immediately assume they were throwing me hints. Even in class, when there would be a fat character in a book we were reading, I worried my classmates would be thinking about me. Just the other day my two friends walked by and were tempted by a plate of food, but said, "No. We can't. We're being skinny this week." Immediately I was embarrassed that I was standing there, decidedly not "being skinny this week." And then I remembered that people are really only thinking, worrying, or caring about themselves. So if you hear a passing comment that excites those demons in your head, remember that those people are battling their own demons, and how sad for them that they have to be "skinny" this week!
- There is such a thing as being big-boned.
I always felt different growing up because I was significantly taller and larger than all of my peers. It sucked. But it wasn't until I walked past two dogs together — an English Bulldog and a Greyhound — that I realized some people (or dogs) are just naturally really tiny and some are naturally large. Neither is better or worse, it's just anatomy. (And I personally think bulldogs are much cuter.)
- Don't idolize the ultra-thin.
What some people don't understand when they're labeling people "fat" is that the opposite end of the spectrum is not always "healthy." All I'm saying here is that no good ever comes from judging someone by their size. A person might call someone "fat" who works out everyday and eats a healthy, balanced diet. Meanwhile, you might look at a ridiculously thin person and call it #bodygoals, but that body could be very unhealthily attained — which indicates poor physical health and even poorer mental health. So the people who look perfect might not be, and vice versa. Don't assume anything about a person's character by their body size. Especially yourself.
- It really is all about confidence.
This is the hardest step for me, because it takes constant work and upkeep. But the power of confidence is undeniable. We've all seen those people who by no means have out-of-the-ordinary looks, and yet they light up a room. And that only comes from confidence. If you're feeling yourself in an outfit, that will come across! Don't be afraid to be one of those lucky people who don't doubt themselves. If you're thinking about how much you hate your arms, others will pick up on that discomfort.
I encourage you to continue to release yourself from the chains of negative self-image! You're worth so much more than that.