Trying to feel good about your body can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Between the photoshopped advertisements, diet culture, Instagram models and dating apps, it can start to feel like all that matters in the world is to fit a narrow definition of beauty. And even when you know it’s not, when you know how toxic that idea is, it can still get to you. Whenever you’re feeling down about your body and need to get out of that headspace, take a look at the following suggestions.
Your Body is an Instrument, Not an Ornament
This sentiment, taken from Lindsay Kite’s TED talk “Body Positivity or Body Obsession? Learning to See More & Be More” has helped me more times than I can count. The whole point is that you are a subject, not an object. Our bodies allow us to be active, to participate in the world around us. To feel and to do. We miss out on too much of our lives if we spend the majority of our time thinking about how others are perceiving us instead of how we are perceiving the world.
Tailor Your Social Media
Unfollow all those Instagram models and conventionally attractive high school acquaintances in favor of body positive, diverse accounts which celebrate all types of bodies. I’ve found that just looking at more body types more regularly has made me feel better about my own body, even if I’m looking at someone who doesn’t look like me. Sometimes it can feel like scrolling through social media is a passive activity in which you fall into a massive, meme-filled black hole until suddenly it’s 3am and you feel like you should go to bed, but now you feel bad about yourself and turn back to the internet for comfort. Anyway, my point is that scrolling the internet doesn’t have to be a passive activity. You can limit the time you spend online, you can block accounts that feed off of your insecurity to sell diet teas that don’t work, and you can search for people online who will inspire you.
Getting Healthy is Great, but…
Don’t try to get healthy for the wrong reasons. If you want to start eating more fresh, home cooked meals, that’s great, more power to you. Take a moment to reflect and make sure you’re doing it because you want to have a healthy digestive system (among other things), not because you think it’ll help you lose weight or clear your skin. Also, be aware of what being healthy truly means for your body, and don’t listen to the internet. Losing weight is not synonymous with being healthy, and if you ever have questions, refer to a doctor. And again, don’t listen to the internet.
The beauty industry wants you to feel ugly. If you feel ugly, you’ll buy more of their products. They also want you to think that you’re inherently ugly and that it’s a fault of genetics, not of societal pressure. If you learn about the history of attractiveness, learn about the motives of the beauty industry, and learn about the science behind attractiveness, you’ll learn that you’re great just the way you are. I also recommend learning about the science of nutrition, which is a fascinating subject. The science of nutrition is unfortunately very vulnerable to corporate influence, as many nutritional studies are paid for by various corporations in the sugar industry, the dairy industry, etc. It’s always good practice to make sure that scientific studies are sound, but for nutritional science it’s especially important.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Most of the issues we have with our bodies don’t start with our bodies, they start with our minds. It’s easy to fall into an obsessive spiral over a few insecurities, which takes away precious emotions and mental energy. So, do whatever you need to do to de-stress, relax, and live life to the fullest. Maybe all you need is to take time each day to indulge in a hobby, maybe you need to focus on changing your mindset when you think about your body, or maybe you’ve gotten to a place where you need to talk to someone. Counseling isn’t just for people at rock bottom; it can be a very helpful tool for anyone who is trying to figure out this thing called life (hint: that’s everyone).