What is that one part of your body that you actually really like? Not a part that others like. And not a part that you pretend to like. Think hard: what part of your body would you not change even if you could? There is something I promise you. Maybe you have awesome nails. Or naturally long eye lashes. Or color highlights in your hair that come out in the sun. Or maybe you have a speckle of yellow in your eyes. Or maybe you have a cute little innie belly button.
For me, it’s my lips. I love the shape of my lips. How they are not super full but not too thin either. How the top lip creates that perfect hipster-mustache shape.
Choose a part of your body you love and dwell on it for a bit. Show it off. If you love that one part, the love will soon spread to other parts of your body too!
In fact, you know what? My toes might not be so bad either. 😉
Question to ponder: What part of your body do you really like?
3. Go to another culture
Imagine this: You walk into a room of people and they all turn around to look at you. But instead of judging, you know that they are looking at you in awe. Like you are a goddess. You are stunning in their eyes. And you stand a little taller. No more trying to be smaller or more invisible. You are proud to be in the body you have. You feel like a queen. You can do anything in the world.
It’s not a dream, my friends. This fairy tale world is real.
This is where I get to plug one of my favorite things in the world: travel! There are so many different countries and cultures out there and they all value different things in physical appearance. For example, my crazy white skin is not the ideal in America. But they love it in India. America values skinniness but here in Zambia and other parts of Africa, it is the big-bodied ladies that get all the attention.
Here in Zambia I feel like a queen, strong and confident. And sadly, I swear I can just feel the negative body thoughts flood into my mind as soon as I step into the airport in America. It is like they feed it to us through the air. So subtle but ever present. It is in the way people dress (have you ever noticed what we choose to show or cover up?), in who is on the cover of the tabloids in the shops, or even who gets the job as news anchors on the tv monitors around the terminal.
Living in Zambia has been like body image therapy. There have actually been times I have worn a contour dress here and not even thought about sucking in! Now THAT is freedom.
Note: I am not naïve to the historical and colonial reason that some cultures value certain physical appearances. (ie. why they value whiteness here in Zambia). But my point still stands that if you experience another value system, you will realize that the one narrative that you have been told your whole life is in fact not the only one. Just be careful of playing into the power structures.
Question to ponder: Where in the world might some aspects of my body be more appreciated?
4. Develop and unconditional love for your body
“I just want to get back to how I looked back in [insert year].” Anyone else heard or said that before?
One thing that I have always been confused about is that they tell us as young girls struggling with self confidence to work on loving ourselves the way we are. But as soon as I get to a point of accepting myself the way I am or the way I look, I change. I don’t stay the same.
Bodies are dynamic things, changing every moment. And that’s not a bad thing! It’s actually so cool! Your personality, character, and interests change with time. But even more fundamentally so does your physical body. Your fat deposits move around, your metabolism changes, and your cells regenerate like crazy. In fact, almost all of your cells are completely new from even a few years ago. (Fun fact: did you know that some of the oldest cells in your body are your coreas?!)
Part of self-love is accepting our bodies, yes, for how they are now. But also how they have been and how they will be. It is an exercise in unconditional love. Like a promise that you make. Love for yourself cannot be static. It is a dynamic love that grows and changes right along with your body.