Over the years I’ve witnessed countless women treat their bodies unlovingly, from pulling the sides of the face back to remove wrinkles, or using two hands to press a stomach in to make it look flatter.
I’ve heard them say, “When did I start looking so old? I don’t recognize myself,” or “Oh my Gawd, I am SO fat.” Lets be honest, you’ve heard this too. Perhaps even from your own mouth!
While I truly believe we're unaware of this conditioned self-loathing, I definitely understand that it's a problem. Research shows that 9 out of 10 women are dissatisfied with their bodies. While this is disappointing, I can relate. I used to be one of those nine.
It took practice to look in the mirror and see more than the sum of my parts. I used to be insecure about my thick thighs and wide hips before I learned how to love my body. My eyes would dart across the reflection to judge my “flaws” and criticize the parts of me that weren't magazine cover-worthy. Yet eventually, I was able to soften my critical eye and see my true self. Now I wish this for all women.
There came a point when I was sick of feeling ashamed about my body. I was ready to make some changes. So if you're ready to practice loving yourself, here are five tips that helped me. Hopefully they can help you too:
1. See yourself as whole.
Look at your reflection and avoid viewing yourself as imperfect pieces. Step back and start to view yourself as a whole. Remember, you're a completely unique and a one-of-a-kind creation that has never existed in this form before, nor will you ever revisit this body again.
2. Acknowledge the now.
Let go of the “if-then” mentality, which says, “If I lose 10 pounds, then I'll love my body.” Shift to the “am-now” mentality that says, “I am bodacious and I love every inch of myself now.” Practice owning a feeling of self-acceptance in the moment, rather than making it contingent upon something else happening in the future.
3. Redefine beauty.
You deserve to be happy and feel confident. So stop hating yourself for not looking like a cover girl. Redefine beauty to include yourself. Release the shame from how perceived standards of beauty make you feel like you’re not enough. Be happy with what you see and know that you are beautiful.
4. Be grateful for your body.
Appreciate your form rather than obsess on what you want to change. Realize how lucky you are to have this body in the first place and think of all the amazing things it can do. Stop complaining about your “flabby” arms and proclaim how lucky you are to have arms. Then use them to do something useful, like building something or hugging someone.
5. Teach by example.
We don’t need to be supermodels to be happy. However, we should strive to be good role models, because whether you know it or not, the way you treat yourself influences those around you. Dare to love the unlovable. Be kind to yourself. Be loving. You deserve to be happy, and other women need you to show them how.