Every day we are bombarded with images of what our society deems beautiful: a slender figure, long legs, perfect skin, flat tummy, and thighs that will never, ever touch!
The truth is, many of us have finally learned that beauty is very subjective. It really is in the eye of the beholder, and yet we still give ourselves a hard time when we don't measure up to society's impossible (and ever-changing) standards.
Yes, being at a healthy weight alongside a good diet and daily exercise is important. However having a healthy mentality about your body is just as vital to living a long and happy life. If you struggle with loving your body just the way it is, here are some things you can do.
How to Love Your Body Just the Way It Is
Be aware, and change your perception.
It is nearly impossible to avoid all the advertisements that infiltrate our lives every day. They are seemingly everywhere, on TV, billboards, magazines, social media - the list goes on! We can't completely avoid being exposed to these images, however what we can change is our perception of them.
Many times these images are so far from what the actual model looks like, that you probably wouldn't recognize them if you saw them in person. Photos are expertly styled, skin is touched up, thighs are slimmed, and everything in between is smoothed, tucked, and tweaked. It's good to remind yourself of these details whenever seeing the images and feeling insecure.
The constant anxiety of how we might measure up is just not worth the stress. The next time you feel deflated when seeing that perfect picture in a magazine, think of three positive aspects about your body that you absolutely love. Bonus points for listing three positive aspects of your personality as well!
Find a good role model.
If you find yourself thinking, "If I could only look like that person, then I'd finally be happy / successful / find the love of my life," then step back and think about why you're choosing that person to look up to. Often the only version of a celebrity or model we see is the public image that is projected of them, not their full truth or happiness. We see that they're beautiful and successful, but that doesn't mean that they're necessarily happy (although our society places an unfounded correlation between those things).
Find role models that have healthy images of themselves and a positive outlook on life. These are people who will reinforce your own quest to be healthier, instead of others who are only famous because of their looks. Bonus points for choosing a person you know in your own life, and not a celebrity.
Give yourself a pep-talk.
Many times the negativity begins when we first look in the mirror in the morning. What we say to ourselves each day reflects how we truly feel about ourselves. Think about if every day you walked out the door, someone was standing there to tell you that you were going to have a terrible day. After a few weeks of hearing it over and over again, you might start believing them.
Instead, change those negative feelings about your body into positive ones. Instead of saying, "these wrinkles make me look old," say, "these wrinkles show that I've lived a life full of laughter." Instead of saying, "my hips are too wide," change it to, "my hips give me curves, show off my womanly figure, and give me strength and balance." Even if you don't quite believe the affirmations just yet, little by little you'll begin to convince yourself and start to see your body in a whole new light.
The fact of the matter is, it's going to take time to change your perceptions. As with anything in health, it can take a little while for habits to form. With practice and determination you'll eventually begin to appreciate the beautiful body with which you've been blessed!
[Credit: Demillo Wagner, Gina. Build A Better Body Image. Experience Life.][Credit: Rose, Darya. How My Moms Tough Love About My Body Shaped Basically Everything. Greatist.]