Can I be totally honest with you? I am not exactly the poster child for the body confidence movement. I’m no champion of body positivity and self-love. Loving yourself and the way you look in the modern, digital media age is really really hard to do. Especially in those summer months, when it seems that every magazine and blog has articles about being “bikini ready” and starting a new “summer diet.”
I’m here writing this article anyway because I know what it’s like to struggle with body image and I want to help. Now that we’re well into the glorious summer months, you might be extra self-conscious about how you look. You might be nervous about hitting the pool or the beach. You might be worried about donning your best festival look.
But you don’t have to feel that way! The body confidence movement is all about embracing every part of who you are, recognizing and accepting that you are amazing, and flaunting what you’ve got. Regardless of your body type, skin color, physical or mental ability, or anything else, you can and deserve to feel great about your body.
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As someone who needs to boost my own body confidence on a regular basis, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you on your journey.
What’s The Real Story With Body Confidence?
Body confidence is a difficult subject to discuss because there are so many factors to consider. Before I start giving some tips for building body confidence, I’d like to talk about some of those elements.
1. What is Body Confidence?
Body confidence is when you celebrate, love, and are confident in every part of your body, regardless of how you look.
If you want to get a quick preview of some of the top things you should know about body confidence, check out this great video by Grace F Victory.
2. Know That the “Ideal” Body Type Is Totally Subjective
Here’s the deal…what is considered the “ideal body type” is completely subjective. And I don’t just mean that each person has their own individual preferences when it comes to how they look or who they are attracted to.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Every culture and every time-period has a different idea of what the #perfect body looks like. #missmillmag #bodyconfidence #bodyimage” quote=”Every culture and every time-period has a different idea of what the “perfect” body looks like.”]
Every culture and every time period has a different idea of what the “perfect” body looks like. For example, today the United States tends to idealize the hourglass shape while China largely prefers slender torsos and hips (HuffPost). And what is thought of as “ideal” today is not what was idealized in the Victorian Era (BuzzFeed). Here's a great video from BuzzFeed that shows precisely what I'm talking about.
Knowing that perfection is subjective may or may not alleviate some of the pressure, you feel to look a certain way. When I learned this, it helped me a little bit because it is a factual reminder of how subjective, and therefore ultimately irrelevant, beauty standards are.
3. Realize that Body Shaming is a Byproduct of Sexism
This might not come as a shock, but it’s true…body shaming is part of the sexist fabric of society. Everything about it—reducing women’s value to their appearance, considering some bodies as “better” than others, putting women in competition with one another, using arbitrarily assigned clothing sizes to indicate how “desirable” someone is—it’s all sexist.
Once I internalized this, it got me really fired up about fighting against body standards, body policing, and body shaming.
Let’s Jump Right In.
Without further ado, let’s start discussing those pointers that will help you improve your body image.
Recognize That Body Confidence Isn’t Easy
This may seem obvious, but recognizing that building your body confidence, or even having it in the first place, isn’t easy. Multiple times every day, we are bombarded with messages telling us how we should look on TV, movies, social media, and music. If your body doesn’t exactly fit what is considered “ideal” or “perfect,” then you’re taught to dislike that part of yourself. In our deeply sexist society, it is a radical act to love your body truly.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”In our deeply #sexist society, it is a radical act to truly #love your body. #missmillmag #bodyconfidence” quote=”In our deeply sexist society, it is a radical act to love your body truly.”]
In addition to sexism, there are so many added societal factors—racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia—working against you, depending on how you identify. For example, black women face added challenges with body image because of harmful messages about their race, and women in wheelchairs have additional barriers to overcome because of mindsets about their physical ability. So if you identify with one or more marginalized group, the process of boosting your body confidence is even more difficult.
Start On The Inside
Building body confidence starts on the inside, not the outside. In reality, if you are unhappy with how you look, nothing will change until your mindset changes. You could diet until you are at your goal weight, you could work out until you have a six pack that would rival Ryan Gosling’s, you could even get plastic surgery to alter how your face looks, but there will always be something else. Something else that won’t look the way you want it to, or how society tells you it should look.
Focus on Being Happy
Do what you need to do to help yourself be happy with yourself. Don’t even make this part of your journey about your appearance, either.
I’ve found that the points in my life in which I’m happy with what I’m doing in life are also the times in which it’s easier for me to work on my body confidence. Those other times when I’m down on myself in general, I also tend to struggle more with loving my body.
Focus on those other parts of your life with which you struggle and build up your confidence there, then use that energy towards helping your body image too.
Carrie Hope Fletcher has a great message about how happiness intersects with body confidence in this video.
Surround Yourself With Body Positivity
Like with any other journey, it’s important to surround yourself with things, experiences, and people that are going to help you on your way. Befriend people who are going to boost your body confidence, not tear it down. Post body positive quotes on your Insta. Print quotes about accepting your body and tape them to your mirror. Do whatever you need to do to feel as though you’re regularly being exposed to good vibes.
Because body shaming is so ingrained in our society, we have to combat it actively to be victorious.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Because #bodyshaming is so ingrained in our society, we have to combat it actively to be victorious. #missmillmag #bodyconfidence #feminism” quote=”Because body shaming is so ingrained in our society, we have to actively combat it to be victorious.”]
Let’s Dig A Little Deeper
So now that you’re working on your mindset, chasing your happy, and surrounding yourself with body positivity, let’s take things to the next level. While I genuinely believe that the way to feel confident about your body starts within, that doesn’t mean that there are things you can do on the outside to help out. No, I’m not talking about intense workout regimes or fad diets or surgery. Keep reading to find out!
Splurge on Some Makeup
There’s some debate surrounding whether or not wearing makeup is inherently anti-feminist, but I’m of the mindset that makeup is a way for you to express yourself, have some fun, and make yourself feel good. For myself, doing my makeup is an act of self-care because it is time that I’m using totally selfishly.
I’m perfectly fine with going out into the world without makeup, so when I take the extra time to put some on it’s for my own benefit. I have found that something as simple as putting on a new lipgloss or taking the time to wing your eyeliner makes me hold my head up a bit higher. If you’re also a fan of makeup, take an extra five minutes in the morning for yourself and put some on.
I recognize that not everyone has the same relationship with makeup that I do, so if you find that thinking about wearing makeup is actually detrimental to your body image (for example, if you’re using it to cover your face or distract people from your natural beauty), then this tip might not be the most effective for you.
Buy New Lingerie
I don’t know about you, but every time I buy a new bra or pair of underwear (whether someone else is going to see it or not), I feel awesome. I feel spunky. I feel sexy. Nothing about my body has actually changed when I’m wearing new lingerie, but rather the way I think about my body has.
My favorite place to buy a new bra is from Adore Me. I’ve talked about Adore Me in other articles because I love them so much. They have a vast range of sizes and styles, so you can find a bra that really suits your body shape well. I’ve heard from my friends that have larger chests that it’s challenging to find cute bras that fit them. While it’s okay to wear a plain black or beige bra every once in a while, sometimes you want to spice things up! Adore Me has super cute styles in all the sizes they offer. I recently bought the Kristeen bra with the cheeky style underwear, and I am low key obsessed with them.
Do Something That Makes You Feel Strong Every Day
Feeling strong can mean a lot of different things to many people. It could mean your muscles are sore, you have demonstrated emotional resilience, or you completed a challenging project.
To feel strong, you could join a CrossFit gym. You could follow along to a yoga video on Yoga Download. You could do a power pose in the mirror every morning. Watch this 37-second video from Amy Cuddy about the power of power poses.
You could also track your steps with your Fitbit and try to get to at least 10,000 every day. What I love about Fitbit is that the device can show you how active you already are in your daily life. When I see my step count increase throughout the day, I feel good about myself. And as someone who’s pretty competitive, trying to beat my previous best is a lot of fun.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Doing something that makes me feel #strong reminds me that my body can do wonderful things. #missmillmag #femalepower #feminism #bodypositivity” quote=”Doing something that makes me feel strong…reminds me that my body can do wonderful things.”]
Eat Foods That Make You Feel Good
I’m not going to promote any particular diet or food trend, partly because the idea of diets are classist (read more about this here) and partly because I think they often promote an unhealthy relationship with food.
But what I will advocate for is that you eat foods that make you feel good. Sometimes, that might be a turkey burger without the bun or ketchup and organic Vermont white cheddar, and sometimes that might be some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And both of those are ok! Listen to your body, you know it best.
For example, I have found that I feel better if I eat a minimal amount of bread. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t eat a really great sandwich or a soft pretzel every once in a while, but I do try to avoid eating lots of bread. Not because I want to be gluten-free or follow any particular diet trend, but because that’s what my body tells me it prefers.
When you are a conscious eater, and you are in tune with your body’s preferences, then you will feel better about what you’re consuming. In turn, you’ll feel better about your body overall.
The Bottom Line Is This…
…finding your body confidence is hard. Really hard. It’s a constant process that takes inner strength, determination, and lots of love for yourself.
One thing I hope to convey in this article is that there’s no surefire manual on how to have body confidence. This journey is highly personal and what may work for one person, or even many people, may not work for you. I am confident, though, that there’s at least one thing in this article that will benefit you. You might have to try a few out, but I guarantee you will find something that works for you.
Boosting your body confidence and learning to love yourself is a difficult task, but incredibly worthwhile.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”At the end of the day, boosting your #bodyconfidence and learning to #loveyourself is a difficult task, but incredibly worthwhile. #missmillmag #bodyimage” quote=”At the end of the day, boosting your body confidence and learning to love yourself is a difficult task, but incredibly worthwhile.”]