The road to self-love can be a long and bumpy one, full of internal and external obstacles getting in the way of accepting ourselves. Living in a world where we are constantly told by the media and society what we should change or not like about our bodies, it’s hard not to get sucked in.
Every day, we’re bombarded with overly Photoshopped pictures of unrealistic bodies on social media that leave many women feeling less than. But don’t get me wrong — social media isn’t all bad! Body-positive crusaders are taking a stand online to show that everyone is beautiful in her own way. We are seeing models like Denise Bidot start the body-positive No Wrong Way Movement, while my British sister Felicity Hayward fuels her cause, #selflovebringsbeauty, all the way from London.
After going through my own self-love journey, I can tell you that it does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work to change your mindset and start deconstructing the negative thoughts engrained in you and start recognizing the beauty in our differences. Loving your body is a choice that each individual must make on her own and happens when you stop comparing yourself with others. Cutting out your own negative self-talk can be one of the hardest and most important steps.
An exercise that really helped me was positive mirror talk. Each morning I look in the mirror and say out loud five things that I love about my body. Like Instagram star Iskra Lawrence says, the idea of this exercise is to point out the amazing things your body does for you and to be consistent. Keep telling yourself you are beautiful, even if at the time you don’t feel particularly pretty, and repeat until the feelings follow.
Imagine how much we would all flourish and all the beauty we could create in the world if we could just start loving the marks and dips of our bodies instead of trying to change who we are. The world would be so boring if everyone looked the same! Diversity is what helps fuel creativity and keeps the world an interesting and inspiring place.
To help you on your own self-love journey, I’ve enlisted eight major body-positive crusaders to share their top tips on how to love your body.
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
Iskra Lawrence, model and #everyBODYisbeautiful advocate
Stop comparing yourself with others. I used to do this — idolizing and dreaming of looking like other models I aspired to be like (“why can’t my legs be that skinny?” etc.). But having that mindset is so crippling because you can never look like them, and you’re not meant to. You’re meant to be you, and that’s the best you can be! I also do my mirror challenge regularly: I get in front of the mirror and instead of looking at any insecurities I may have, I find and focus on all the incredible things my body does for me and the unique things about me that make me one of a kind. It makes me feel very empowered and grateful.
Gabi Fresh, co-founder of Premme
Follow people who reflect you on social media. Representation is so important, even more than we realize. Since mainstream media is slow to show diversity, we have to make conscious choices to diversify our feeds. Seeing positive images of people who have similarities to you as you scroll through social media definitely makes a difference. Also, find great clothes that you love and that fit you well. Dressing to cover up doesn’t make you feel good. Instead, make an effort to figure out your personal style and experiment with different options. There are so many more extended size ranges these days — no reason to stick to old-school fashion rules and matronly clothing.
Alex Michael May
Alex Michael May, creative director
Eliminate negative self-talk. You know the voice in your head that narrates your day and reminds you of your (seemingly constant) shortcomings? Yeah, that has got to go. The first step is to identify when you’re engaging in this negative self-talk, and then stop it in its tracks by flipping the script. Imagine you’re talking to yourself as a child or to your own little one. Would you ever call them fat? A loser? Treat yourself with the same love and care as you would your friend, mom, sister, or child.
Jess Baker, blogger and #FatGirlsCan activist
Knowing that I’m going to have “bad body days” — this is an inevitable part of challenging the brainwashing that we’ve internalized our entire lives. Having a crappy day (or a dozen) doesn’t mean I’m a failure, incapable of re-learning the truth or unable to make lasting positive changes. It just means that I’m human, and allowing these days to happen without feeling additional shame for having difficult moments releases me of another self-imposed version of “perfection.”
Denise Bidot, model and founder of #NoWrongWay movement
Wear something that scares you. Don’t let a roll here or a ripple there stop you from expressing yourself. If you like it, others will too. Your confidence will shine through. Self-love is also contagious. Spend time with others who love themselves — sooner or later their confidence will rub off. Never be afraid to borrow someone’s courage for yourself. That’s why I started #NoWrongWayTV to show women the beauty in their differences.
Troy Solomon, blogger and model
Get rid of the idea that if your body looks a certain way you will be happier. It’s actually hindering your ability to love yourself. It’s OK to want to be healthier and make those lifestyle changes, but if you don’t love yourself at any size, you’ll never truly find happiness even if you reach your “perfect” body size.
Felicity Hayward, founder @selflovebringsbeauty
Embrace your individuality. There is only one of you on this entire planet, so aspire to be the best version of yourself, not someone else. “Flaws” do not exist; they are pushed on us by the media to encourage women to change their appearance in order to make money off of your insecurities. So take time to love your so-called flaws — they are what make you special.
Mannon Edwards, blogger
Even if you are not accepting your body at the moment when you look at yourself in the mirror, challenge yourself and try to imagine that you are seeing the body you’ve always wanted to have. Act like you are the new beauty queen! We also easily become influenced by the people who are around us. If you surround yourself with open-minded people who accept you and themselves, it will help you start to change how you see the world.