Megan Roantree on why the advice to love yourself no matter what just doesn't wash
Do you ever feel like you’re constantly being bombarded with two very different messages – ‘love yourself and your body no matter what’, and ‘here’s how to change everything about yourself because it’s all terrible’? While it seems more than obvious that the former is the way to go, it’s not always that easy.
It can be hard to love your body when it doesn’t look the way you want it to, and sometimes messages of ‘you’re perfect don’t change a thing’ and ‘here’s how to change these things’ seem a bit jarring. So we’re looking at small and simple ways you can find the balance between body positivity, acceptance and making changes for the right reasons.
Unfollow on Insta
If you hate your body because you see stunning models on Instagram advertising bikinis on your feed every day, it might be time to unfollow. Part of our body image issues can come from what we see every day and what we, therefore, think we should look like. We all spend far too much time on social media so we may as well make it a place that doesn’t make us feel terrible about ourselves. Follow women who look like you, and with more diversity so you slowly but surely get it into your head that there is not one type of beauty.
Remind yourself of your body’s purpose
You know how you’re living, breathing, talking and all the rest? That’s your body doing its job. You’re not put on this earth to look good on Instagram and it’s important to remember that. If you’re healthy, feel comfortable in your body, and are physically fit, you shouldn’t feel inadequate, you should feel grateful. Try to change the way you talk about your body instead, as nasty remarks about yourself will never do any good or change anything.
Don’t associate working out/being healthy with being thinner
Plus-sized model Ashley Graham previously spoke about getting shamed on social media when she uploads gym videos or pics because she isn’t ‘meant to be skinny’. As a plus-size woman and a role model, people accused her of letting fans down by working out. “I work out to stay healthy, feel good, get rid of jet lag, clear my head, show big girls we can move like the rest of ’em, stay flexible and strong, have more energy,” she said on Instagram. “I don’t work out to lose weight or my curves, because I love the skin I’m in.” It’s time to stop associating exercise and health with wanting to be skinny because there are lots of different reasons people do it. The more we do that, the more we can show that there isn’t one body type that is good versus the other types.
It’s okay if you want to change something, as long as it’s for the right reason
With the incredible body positivity movement that is ongoing, sometimes it can almost feel disloyal or wrong to want to change things about yourself – but that’s not right either. If you’ve always wanted to change something – from your hair colour to your weight, it’s okay to do it, and be very proud of it.
There is power in changing something you dislike if it gives you more confidence and makes you happier, as long as it’s for you.
Not for a boyfriend, a judgemental family member, and definitely not societal pressures, but for you!
Ask yourself why you’re unhappy about that part of your body
Are you unhappy with your legs because you wish you had a thigh gap? Remember most women are just not built that way. Are you unhappy with your nose because you wish you looked like a Love/Island star? It’s likely not their own nose. Do you wish you had a bigger bum or curvier hips because it’s on trend right now? Remember that trends come and go and it doesn’t make your body type wrong… If the things that are making you miserable are things you only learned to be miserable about after seeing it on TV, from a product, on social media, it may very well just be societal pressure, which we need to more cautious about letting it influence us. Be more mindful of whether you actually dislike this thing about yourself or whether you just feel like you have to. Are you unhappy with your body because you are out of breath going up the stairs? That is nothing to do with society and more to do with living your life to the fullest. So next time you think something terrible about yourself, ask why.
Don’t get hung up on size
Don’t let not fitting into a size 10 upset you because sizing in shops is a myth. No two shops are the exact same – meaning that a size 10 in one shop might fit you, while you might struggle to get into a 14 in another. Also our top and bottom half are rarely the same size, so you might need a bigger skirt than you do a shirt. This does not hold any value and wishing you were a certain size will never work, as there is no strict guideline for each size. Instead, focus on wearing things that feel and look great.
You’re allowed to feel crap sometimes
We all have days where we don’t feel great about ourselves, and to act like we don’t can be damaging. Accepting that you won’t love yourself every single day is more realistic and helps to remind us that we don’t have to feel one single way about ourselves or our bodies. Some days we’ll feel good and other days we won’t and that’s all part of realistic body positivity.