The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her appearance every day. And it's not just adults; 47 percent of young women—between the ages of 11 and 14—are held back from participating in normal activities because they worry about their bodies. While the movement toward body positivity is growing, feeling confident is a daily struggle for teens and adults worldwide, including myself.
Despite maintaining an 80-pound weight loss, I still have trouble with self-image. I have visible stretch marks and loose skin on my stomach from pregnancy. And while I logically understand that I'm more critical of my appearance than everyone else, it's still hard to shake worries about how I look. To fight back against my insecurities, I practiced various body positivity exercises from experts every single day for a week. Here are my results.
Day 1: DIY Mirror Confrontation
Body image expert Dr. Kjersten Gruys shared this simple body positivity exercise on her website. You just stand in front of a mirror and make neutral comments about your appearance while carefully avoiding any self-hatred or critical evaluations. Examples include:
- I have blonde hair with blue highlights.
- My legs are muscular from my yoga practice.
Notice how both statements are undeniably true and neither positive or negative. I participated in this exercise for about five minutes and emerged with new things I could love about my body.
Day 2: Listing Achievements
On the second day, I simply sat down to make a list of my body achievements. I avoided focusing on anything too related to weight or appearance, choosing instead the amazing things my body can do. My list included:
- My body did college and high school sports.
- My body grew a healthy, smart son.
Your list could include triumphs from your exercise practice, marathons, or other goals you've achieved. With this exercise, I realized I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.
Day 3: Tracking Fitness Goals
Maintaining weight loss is tough, and it can be tempting to fall into a habit of viewing fitness as a weight-related tool, not a way to improve strength, agility, and mood. So, today, I spent some time journaling about how much my physical fitness has progressed over the last year with kettle bells. I set some reasonable and achievable goals for the next three months, including going up a kettle bell weight and, with my goals in place, I felt inspired to continue workouts.
Day 4: Eating Well
It's all too easy to get caught up in work or life in general to find yourself eating foods that don't fuel your bodies or just don't taste that great. On the fourth day, I focused on mindful eating of whole foods. I made a gorgeous lunch salad with arugula, micro greens, avocado, other veggies, and a grilled turkey burger, and I savored every bite. Taking time to fuel yourself with beautiful, nutritious foods isn't just a great way to tackle body positivity; it can have real health and mood benefits!
Day 5: Mixing Up Your Beauty Routine
On day five, I decided to try a new—and more daring—makeup or hairstyle approach. I settled on a very '90s-inspired hairdo that consisted of about ten little buns on my head. It was something I'd never had the courage to attempt before, and it turned out to be a ton of fun. I felt just like Bjork and received a compliment from the barista at my coffee shop.
Even if you don't leave your bathroom or bedroom, giving yourself permission to attempt a hairstyle or makeup technique that previously frightened you could have surprising benefits. You may be thrilled with the results.
Day 6: Investing in a Great Accessory
Treating yourself to a gorgeous investment piece—like new heels or a purse—can be a way to tell yourself that you're worth every penny. Buying fewer clothes and accessories, but opting for higher-quality pieces, can also reduce your cost per wear since these items are less likely to fall apart or break immediately.
I chose a fun vintage pinkie ring that was made out of sterling silver. I highly recommend taking time to pick out a gorgeous, confidence-boosting treat as a way to tell yourself that you deserve to wear beautiful things.
Day 7: Complimenting Others
Body positivity shoudn't just be a way to boost your own self-esteem. Taking the time to compliment friends, family, and even strangers can be a powerful way to spread the body positivity message. So, on the final day, I complimented my sister and a stranger on their gorgeous new clothing pieces.
At the end of the week, I really did feel better. My energy and mood were great, thanks to my efforts to eat whole foods and reach new fitness goals. Was I completely confident in my appearance? Not quite, but I emerged with a new commitment to be confident and happy with myself on a daily basis.
For most women, working toward self-confidence and body positivity won't happen overnight. It will require continued effort to see yourself in a more positive light, but you'll find that body positivity is definitely worth the investment.