As warmer weather approaches, many women begin to consider how their bodies might look in the light of day after being comfortably shielded in sweatshirts and stretchy jeans for the better part of the last six months. In theory, it’s best practice not to give a damn about how you might compare to that celebrity in a bikini frolicking across a beach in Cabo – because most of it is unrealistic anyway (photo. shop.) But whether we agree with societal body shaming and industry standards or not, these images and the hyper-sexualization of women have a real effect on how we view ourselves.
The truth is, getting your body (and mind) to a place that you feel happy about takes more than just an unhealthy, never-going-to-last crash diet. A lot more. And in reality, most of the female images we see in popular media are unattainable anyway – if only because the media doesn’t even try to reflect what real bodies actually look like (thankfully, brands like Aerie are starting to take a positive stand).
To simply tell you “don’t care, don’t compare” is difficult; we are human and we are literally bombarded daily with fantasy masked as reality. So it is important to feel good about yourself, and sometimes you need to hit the reset button on your self perception in order to feel ok – and then make a bigger plan for the future. So here are just a few ways to start to love yourself in the present instead of wishing away your body.
- Take An Active Time Out. Sometimes you need to stop everything and get moving. Think about a physical activity you actually enjoy, like riding a bike or dancing, and just do that for 20 minutes. Heart beating = face smiling. If you genuinely feel that you don’t have time for a regular work out routine, just take it one day at a time – like today.
- Focus – for 12 Hours – on Whole Foods. Spend the day thinking about what you consume and how it came to be packaged. Does it have lots of additives? Try to see how many foods with as few ingredients possible you can combine to make up each meal you consume. (Homemade guacamole definitely counts.) Then try to have a ‘whole-foods day’ once a week, and see where it takes you.
- Concentrate on What You Love Most About Yourself. Temporarily discard of those negative thoughts. Instead, what are your favorite body parts? What are the best parts of your personality? When is a time you felt completely understood and beautiful? Dig out those great traits. Play ’em up, make ’em shine today.
- Develop your Talents. Do that thing you’re really good at, and then muse over a more long term plan to keep pushing that skill to new levels (like finally setting up a date for that rollerblade derby in your basement. Plans may have took a big hiatus after the 4th grade, but the passion still sizzles..)
- Play Up Your Body Type. You may not see your body type represented in the media often, but the laws of fashion apply to everyone. Do some research on how women with a similar shape dress to feel best about their curves, height, and favorite assets, then take stock of your closet and stir the pot.
- Treat Yo’self. Red lipstick? Sure. New converse sneakers? Meow. Chili lime stove-popped pop corn and rom-com with friends? Pass the zester and anything starring Paul Rudd. Get out of your rut for an hour or two and indulge in some fun where fun is needed.
- Read at Least One Inspiring Article. Women are doing great things at every moment around the world. Let in some positivity: it’s easy to get lost in all of the bad news sometimes. Offset all the cringe by actively seeking some genuinely heartwarming stories. Then think about how you can actively contribute to making others feel inspired, too.