We’ve all heard it before – women, in general, have a terrible sense of body image these days. Whether it’s because of the media, cruel kids at school or even our own mirrors, it feels like the world is against us when it comes to feeling good about ourselves and our sizes. Well, I’m here to write about a few ways to take back your body image; to empower yourself so that only you can judge you and so that you can, finally, feel good about what you look like.
- Take a freaking compliment. You know what I’m talking about; when someone tells you you’ve looked like you’ve lost weight, that you’ve slimmed down, that that dress you’re wearing looks awesome and you brush away the compliment like a piece of lint. Stop doing that. It’s something that I did fairly often and when I recently told my mother she looked good, she did the same thing. That’s when I realized this is how poor body image begins – with not taking the compliment you’re given and putting yourself down before the day even starts. Don’t do it. If someone goes out of their way to tell you that you look good, say thank you, and accept the compliment. Know that someone noticed that you’re obviously looking good and embrace the fact that it’s true. And, in turn, if you think a girl looks good, if you like her shoes, her hair, make-up, whatever it may be, pay it forward. Give her a compliment and just see her light-up! After all, it’s important to remember that every girl out there is your unspoken sister, looking for her own self-confidence, not to mention women tend to judge each other more harshly than any man. So, by paying her a compliment, you’re helping out your fellow woman, and yourself, by giving them that little nod of appreciation. Do it – you’ll feel better.
- Wear what you love. I know that there are certain articles, styles, and types of clothing that different body types should stay away from (I’ve never worn an empire waist anything in my life) in order to flatter our shapes. However, truth be told, even if it’s not supposed to “compliment” your shape, if you love those skinny jeans (like I do, despite my curvy legs), that fitted tank top, that ruffled skirt then you should be wearing it. All day, every day, no matter who says what. Why, do you ask, despite the hundreds of fashion blogs that say no? Because you love it. And if you love it then you’re going to feel great in it, and if you feel great in it, you’re going to look amazing in it thanks to all that happiness you’ll be radiating. Wear what you love, always, because no matter what, you’ll look as awesome as you feel.
- Know that size doesn’t matter. When I say “size” I mean that evil, printed little number on the tags of all clothing. It took me a while but I had an epiphany when I started college that has since changed the way I look at clothes shopping. That epiphany was that size doesn't matter – truly, it doesn’t. Every designer, every style, every single piece of clothing is sized differently and no two articles of clothing are ever alike. Not to mention that a size in one type of jean or dress will not measure the same as another jean or dress from a different designer or line. I have jeans in sizes ranging from fours to eights because of this inconsistency and have dresses ranging in sizes from two to twelve. It’s all about picking the size that you feel the best in and that you feel flatters you the most, not about the stupid number printed on the tag. Forget about size, quit having a panic attack because you need to go up a size in a different style of jeans, and just wear what fits.
- Find at least one attribute to love. Come on, ladies, at least one. All of us have at least one attribute, whether it’s those toned legs, that beauty mark, the big eyes, or that great hair, that we actually like. And yes, you’re allowed to have one. I know that popular female thought has emphasized self-deprivation and modesty as a more favorable feminine trait. However, I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly OK to like – hell, forget that – love yourself. Now, that may take some time if you’re a long-suferer of poor body image, like me, but each day, look in the mirror (as strange as it sounds) and give yourself a compliment on your favorite attribute. For example, I love my legs – yeah, I said it. And no, I’m not a 5’11” model with stems that go on for days. But I am a 5’6” runner who, after seven years of putting my poor gams to the test, has come to appreciate my shapely legs for what they really are – strong, hard-working, and insatiable for a little extra pain to go that extra mile. So go on, forget modesty and propriety for a minute and find your favorite attribute to feel good about without shame.
- Just say “no”. I mean it – say no to anything and everything that’s going to make you feel bad about yourself. Whether or not that’s skipping the gym, not letting yourself have that serving of ice cream, or hanging out with that frienemy that gives you backhanded compliments, stop doing things that don’t make you feel good about yourself. It makes no sense. Body image and self-esteem all depend on your mental health and view of yourself so why the hell would you ever condone or participate in anything that makes you feel less than amazing? The answer is, you shouldn’t and, from here on out, I hope you won’t. So, go on, have that cookie if you want it, run that extra mile because you can, and don’t spend time with people who make you feel like crap. You’re worth more than that and deserve better for yourself, always.
This is a short, but sweet and heart-felt list of tips on how I’ve begun the long fight of overcoming my body image issues. Though I don’t mean to toot my own horn, I have to admit, it feels good. I don’t hate myself for not fitting into that coveted pair of jeans, I don’t sigh wistfully when I see a wispy little model spread out on the television or in a magazine. As time passes and as I’ve come to embrace my body, I’ve come to appreciate it, to treat it well, and to flatter it in such a way that has made me feel much better about myself. And let me tell you – nothing looks better on a woman than confidence. So, I hope that you will take these tips to heart and if you have any of your own to share with your fellow women, please post them in the comments section below.