Learning to Like Your Body

the-many-adventures-of-winnie-the-pooh-24The struggle to like your body is universal and one that everyone can identify with. Don’t just accept your body, actually like it and be proud of it.

1. Don’t let one bad photo ruin your day. Yesterday my boyfriend Russ took a picture of me while we were at brunch. When he posted the picture I cringed because I didn’t like that I looked skinny. As I ate it was all I could think about and I started to go into a downward self-esteem spiral. Then I had a moment of clarity during a bite of some delicious zucchini bread. “Why am I letting one picture ruin my day?” I liked what I saw in the mirror that morning so one unflattering picture shouldn’t over rule that. Learn from my mistake. Don’t beat yourself up about a bad photo because there are so many factors at play other than just your looks. Lighting, angles, and poses all have a huge impact on the end result. Focus on what you see in the mirror not on the screen. Or in my case, focus on the wonderfully loving boyfriend across from you who is taking your picture because he loves you and thinks you’re handsome.

2. Bad clothes can happen to good people. When done right, clothes are fun and give you an extra boost of confidence. When done wrong they can make you question your total value as a human. The next time you try something on switch your way of thinking from, “I look so bad in this” to “This shirt is uglier than I expected.” Don’t blame your body, blame the clothes.

3. Acknowledge your own biases. Clothing and photography can impact how we look and play tricks with our perceptions. Unfortunately our own minds can be just as deceptive. For example, if you ask many body builders they will often tell you that they still see the skinny teenager in the mirror despite years of intense weight lifting. These thoughts are very hard to correct but being aware of them is a good start. In addition we each have specific imperfections that we tend to focus all our attention on. Personally, whenever I pose for a picture I am overly aware of how small and squinty my eyes tend to look. Therefore I overcompensate which can lead to crazy eyes. In reality everyone else is probably totally unaware of any eye issues. What stands out to me is just a minor detail to the rest of the world.

4. Turn the negative into a positive. We all have things that we are insecure about. However I guarantee there is someone out there who loves that about you. This is best evident when you see a chubby guy attend a bear/chub event for the first time. The insecurity and self-consciousness they feel in the outside world quickly fades as they realize the belly they always tried to hide is now a tremendous asset that makes them a target of attraction and attention. In addition keep in mind the grass always looks green on the other side. Skinny guys want to be bigger, big guys think thin is in, and no one is ever happy with the skin tags around their neck. Regardless of your insecurity there is someone who will love you for it. Also there’s probably a Tumblr page devoted to it.

5. Fake till you make it. Feeling more confident is an uphill battle that is much easier said than done. In the beginning you’ve got to fake it and pretend for a while until you mind and heart catch up to each other. Did you just shave your head because you were embarrassed by your thinning hair and bald spot? Make it a point to tell people how happy you are to be free of hair products and that you’re loving the extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning now that your bathroom routine is quicker. You’ll find that even though it was a lie at first your feelings will catch up overtime.

6. Change the changeable. If you are truly unhappy with the way you look then it’s time to do something about it. It’s not easy but change is always a good thing. The word change can mean different things to different people. For one person it can mean going to the gym to get the huge pecs and arms he’s always wanted. While another person can take it to mean changing how they feel about their body. Whether you change your physical appearance or your opinion of it, both are a long journey. Personally I prefer changing how I feel about my body because I can do that from the comfort of my couch but I applaud anyone who has the dedication to stick with an arduous gym routine.

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