One thing that made me start loving or at least accepting what my body currently looks like, is looking at myself in the mirror and I think you should do the same. Yes, this is a mirror exercise, and yes, this is about feeling a little bit of vanity!
I have a colleague that has a framed picture of himself in his office. I walked in recently and spotted this picture, high up on a filing cabinet. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: Is that a picture of yourself?
Colleague: Oh, yes! How I love myself!
Me: I love the pic.
Colleague: Me too, darling!
At first, I thought he was quite vain. Then it occurred to me, that he just possessed a level of self-confidence that I (and many people) are missing. He loves himself, and unapologetically so! Full stop. Even if someone were to say he was vain, he wouldn’t care. I realized that even if no one else likes the way he looks, he does. This is all that really matters.
Now, how do we start getting this (or a similar) level of confidence? Not without a measure of hard work, but it’s not impossible. Just difficult to start. Especially if you haven’t been taught to love yourself; came from a family who thought that pride in your appearance is wrong; had an eating disorder; bullied for the way you look, or compare yourself to what you see in fashion magazines. This is for all of us! You just don’t feel good enough and wish you could change something.
Before I get into the exercise, how do you think you would feel if you did change yourself miraculously in one day, with your current mind-set? You know, even secretly, that you might not be entirely happy. You would see another flaw to fix, change and get rid of. No matter the changes that happen with your body, there should be a constant in your mind: “I can and will accept myself, as I am.” No one’s body ever stays the same. That is a fact of life. You didn’t do anything wrong; not at all! Your body is just doing the things it needs to. You just need to nurture what you have. So, let’s start.
Get in front of the mirror: I don’t just mean your tiny compact mirror, or your slightly larger bathroom cabinet mirror. I mean a full-length mirror. See yourself from head-to-toe. Everything. Does this seem daunting? Yeah, it’s not mean to be easy.
Really take a look at yourself: Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to stand there staring at yourself for an indefinite amount of time. However, just take a look at yourself for about a minute. Take it all in. Every feature, every quirk ad every part of you. What do you see?
Compliment yourself: This is where it could get tough. Find five things you like about yourself and out loud say you like them. You could even add a reason. Here’s an example:
“I really like my eyes. I like my hair because it’s really healthy. I like my butt because I don’t ever have to work too hard to twerk. I love my boobs, because the size suits me just fine. Lastly, I like hands, because they work hard in my job and make amazing cakes.”
You could pick the smallest things, and it may be difficult but this is all about body appreciation. Look at the features of yourself that others often compliment and mention those as well. The idea is not to have to rely on getting validation from others, but knowing in yourself that you are enough. This exercise also forces you not to pick apart the parts of your body you dislike (even hate) but to embrace your body. What I found is that I got tired of complimenting the same features over, and over again. I found new ones to compliment and admire.
Now dance! If you have time, put on some good music and dance after complimenting yourself. Almost like a job well done. This is in the safety and privacy of your own home or room, so go for gold. You are really dancing like nobody is watching and enjoying it. Get to know your body and feel the beat of the music. On the other hand, if you prefer, you can put on a slow jam and sway your hips gently to the rhythm. It’s just you and your body.
When you get out of the shower or bath, take your time putting your lotion on. Be gentle with yourself when applying your lotion and really feel your skin. Notice how it feels and allow yourself to enjoy the moment.
When you go to a fitting room, remember to tell yourself that the mirror and lights are always unflattering. They aren’t like the ones we have at home. You should also remember that every store has a different cut for the same size. Just because you don’t fit into the jeans at one store, doesn’t mean all the same sizes in other stores won’t fit.
On that note, its okay to buy a different size of clothing. If your body has changed and maybe gotten larger in size, you can’t go without clothes. It is also unrealistic to starve yourself in a bid to fit into an outfit. Not only are you giving into the notion that you are not good enough; setting up an unhealthy cycle but you are also, yet again, going to be without clothes for a period of time. Why do that? If you do lose weight in a healthy way, then clothes can be tailored.
I would be lying if I said that I am confident 24/7. It’s just not true. I do have moments where I don’t always like what I see in the mirror. I remind myself that I am still actively unlearning years of negative self-talk and shaking off the unrealistic notions society has placed on me to have a certain kind of body. I am learning to forgive extended family member for bullying me about my body as a child and apologising to my body for putting trough diets, shakes, potions and pills to get it to be something it already was- enough.
This is all a process, but not one without the rewards. I invite you to do the same and share your thoughts.