Like many other women today, I too have been a victim of media. Wherever you look, you’ll see perfect women’s bodies with no cellulite, no stretch marks, no fat, and not a size above small. As a young woman growing up in that world and not having such a body, I started thinking there was something wrong with me. Suddenly, I didn’t like anything about my body and I wished it was anything but what it actually was.
Despite not actually having anything wrong with my body, I went on various diets, skipped meals, and put myself through tough workout regimes. I just ended up starving myself, becoming weak, and not getting the results I wanted. My self-esteem faltered more as my hate for my body grew. At the time, I was dimly aware that my mental health was suffering, but now I’m sure that this was the first step to illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Thankfully, I realized on time that only love for myself could save me. I couldn’t change the way the world sees beauty, but I could change the way I see it.
1. Actually change your diet
When it comes to losing weight and getting your nutrition in order, it seems that these two things are mutually exclusive. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to go on these fads and diets, and cut so many things out of your meal plan which isn’t very good nutrition. On the other hand, if you eat properly, you won’t be losing weight. Right? Absolutely not.
I tried so many diets hoping for awesome results each time, but every time I stopped with the diet I would just gain more weight. All I did was starve my body and treat it with even less respect. When I started feeling good around food was when I approached it the right way.
Instead of cutting down my meals, I just rationed my portions. I didn’t eat two meals a day anymore, but instead, I ate five small ones. That kept my tummy working all day without me feeling bloated or fat. Of course, I made sure to include nuts, fruits and veggies, and dairy. This gave my body everything it needed and I actually started feeling slimmer. It’s much easier to keep eating healthy when you feel good doing it, which is why my diet still hasn’t changed.
2. Refresh your closet
Wearing the same old clothes just means suffering in the same old ways. Sure, you feel comfortable wearing the things you have for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for your mental health. Sooner or later, you just get stuck in a rut. For me, the thing was that I didn’t find myself pretty in any other new clothes.
So I decided to completely refresh my closet. I bought things like skirts and crop tops to challenge myself and see I could pull them off. I stepped out of the dark palette and started wearing more colorful clothing. Do you know what I got? Compliments all around.
People said I didn’t look so dark and gloomy anymore, and that there was a glow about me. I felt it. I didn’t have to hide my body behind my old clothes anymore – the new ones set me free.
3. Have a friend
Having a friend who cares for you is essential in these trying times. You’re just learning to love yourself and your body, so you could use all the support you can get. I don’t have a lot of friends, and at first, I felt scared about opening up about what I’m going through. My mind kept convincing me that they would just laugh in my face.
Instead, I was greeted with a warm hug and words of encouragement. My friends helped me put things in perspective by countering my bad thoughts rationally. As well as that, I could ask how they saw me. When I realized their descriptions of my body were completely different than the ones I had, I was certain it was all just in my head. That helped me finally start to get better.
Remember that a friend can also be a therapist. They’ll be able to do for you exactly what my friends did for me – put things in perspective. I was resolved to go to therapy if my friends rejected my issues, as I knew I needed to find support somewhere.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
It’s very easy to get stuck in your own little bubble when you’re so busy hating your body. Suddenly, “I don’t look good enough to do that” becomes your excuse for every little thing you want to try in your life. I used to barely get out of the house. I was just stuck on my couch, bathing in self-loathing.
Being closed off from the rest of the world only gives you more opportunity to find things you don’t like about yourself. At that point, my confidence was at an all-time low and I realized I needed to get out of my own head.
It wasn’t my body stopping me from exploring the world, it was my mind. Nobody would think I don’t look good enough to do anything but me. It’s all about the way you carry yourself and the kind of attitude you have.
Whenever I start to doubt that’s true, I always remember a quote I read online that sums it up perfectly. As Panthea expert, Dr. Farhadieh said it: “Confidence captivates; confidence is beautiful. In fact, confidence is everything.” With every step you take outside your comfort zone, your confidence rises.
You get to see that nothing bad will happen if you take a walk, wear shorts, or go to the beach.
5. Take pictures of yourself
This was by far the most difficult thing I had to do for myself. When my body image was poor, the last thing I wanted to do was take pictures. I had to make myself look at my reflection in the mirror, I didn’t want a lasting image of what I saw.
I started by taking photos of me in clothes that suited me. Then I found things I liked in those photos. Gradually, it became much easier to take pics because I started noticing the good things instead of the bad. Then I became more daring.
Suddenly, it wasn’t just pics in black clothing or anything other slimming, it was more provocative and experimental. Finally, I got to the phase when I could take photos of myself in a two-piece swimsuit. When I hit that point, I couldn’t believe I actually liked what I was seeing.
Having pics of yourself instead of just looking at yourself in the mirror is much more productive simply because you can look at them anywhere. This was a great help every time I was outside and started feeling insecure, especially if I was wearing something new.
No matter how tough it may seem right now, I’m positive that you can do this. When I started on the path of love, it made me feel like a phony. The love for myself I was trying to convey just didn’t feel real. After a while, the feeling disappeared and I realized I actually cared about myself. I guess it’s true what they say: fake it ‘till you make it. Regardless of if it takes weeks, months, or years, you will make it. You’ll find the beauty you’ve hidden from your eyes so well.
Image courtesy of Miguel Bruna.