By Mia Johnson
We can all agree that the beauty standards today are insane and that the media tells us that anything less than perfect isn’t good enough. The easiest thing in the world becomes to just hate yourself for not being the way you are “supposed” to be. Like so many others, I have fallen victim to this way of thinking. I started hiding behind baggy clothes and avoiding food under the excuse that I wasn’t hungry. Then, one day, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized I wasn’t happy. It took a lot of guts to admit it, but only then could I start working on a better body image and loving myself.
1. Wear what makes you happy
The more I look at what’s popular and fashionable and the more I try to wear it, the worse I feel. Those clothes just aren’t me. Fashion should be a way to express yourself and your thoughts and spirituality. Dressing the way everyone else does goes against that point completely.
When I found my own style, I think I started radiating positive energy. My clothes no longer confined my soul to a cage and made me uncomfortable with who I was and how I looked. I could sit down without worrying my stomach is showing or that my arms are too flabby.
It’s amazing how a piece of fabric can have such a positive effect on your mind. When you wear the right clothes or even the right colour, you feel free, confident, relaxed, and determined. Most importantly, you start loving your body whether you try to or not.
2. You’ll miss you one day
Let’s face it, we’re all growing old. And when you’re 70 or 80 years old, you’re going to look at the pictures of yourself when you were young, and what are you going to think? You’re going to see how beautiful you were and think yourself a fool for believing otherwise. You’re going to remember all the things you missed out on because you were too busy hating yourself.
Well, you’re not old yet. I know I’m not going to regret wearing two-piece swimsuits and strutting my stuff at the beach. I’ll be enjoying my tanned tummy despite the stretch marks or cellulite, and when I’m older, all I’m going to remember is how much fun I had at the beach.
When the going gets tough, I try to remind myself that I only have now. I don’t want to miss the me I could’ve been if I had more courage to love myself. Neither should you. These are the days you’ll either look back on with a smile or with a frown. Let’s make it a smile.
3. Don’t avoid your reflection
When you don’t like the way you look, you’ll do just about anything to avoid mirrors. They stir up feelings of hate and remind you of all the flaws you think you have. At some point, I think I even covered up the mirror I have in the hall so as not to look at myself when I pass by. I was looking for ways to change this, and then an interesting quote by a cosmetic surgeon caught my eye while I was surfing the internet.
It said, “our faces and bodies form the canvas within which our soul and essence resides”. Then it hit me. I am a work of art just the way I am. From that day, I made a point of admiring myself in the mirror just like I would a piece of art. The brushstrokes of my body and human anatomy started to fascinate me instead of repulse me.
A line down my stomach, a particular muscle flex, the way my hips complement my body, and all the beauty marks I have- they are all part of the canvas which is my body. When I looked within myself and stopped avoiding my reflection is when I started making real progress towards loving my body. Now I can check myself out before I love the house and honestly admire the way my clothes fit me. What I like the most is seeing that satisfied smile, no artist could quite capture.
4. Whatever you say, you start believing
Whenever you say something nice about yourself, it sticks a little, regardless of if it feels like a lie. It is the same as saying negative things about your body. The more you say them, the more they become true. I got to the point where I couldn’t even accept compliments anymore.
It was only when I started saying nice things about myself that I started thinking of myself in a nicer way. When someone said my shirt fits me really well, I tried to see it their way, too. In the beginning, I felt like I was lying to myself, but still, I stuck to it.
After a while, I really started thinking my shirt looked good on me. Or that I could pull those jeans off. And that my arms are fine the way they are, and that a little tummy fat doesn’t mean I’m worth any less. It took a lot of effort, but now I can almost instantly say “thank you, I agree” to a compliment and really mean it. Most of all, this method helped me accept all the things I couldn’t change. My freckles, my nose, my thin lips- they all truly are beautiful.
No matter what those around you say, it’s ultimately your opinion of yourself that matters. There is no wrong way to have a body, only a wrong way to look at it. Self-worth and confidence come from within. The art of mindful thinking and being kind to yourself may be tough, but if I could do it, I believe you can too. I know exactly how you feel right now, trust me, I was there too, so let’s use this feeling to try and make something good.