Don’t you think it’s every woman’s right to feel good about how she looks no matter of her shape, size or age? But how many of us actually love, or even like, how we look?
If you’re truly honest with yourself do you like your body? How many of you are saying something like, ‘yeah I like my body but just hate my legs?’
How I feel about my own body has been a bit up and down over the last few years. Pregnancy affected me in a negative way – just never really liked the way my body changed. And I’m getting older too. I’m mid 40’s and things are starting to sag a little; I’m getting crow’s feet, sun spots, eye bags (which I do not like)…..
I think it’s harder than ever to love the body you are in. There’s so much pressure and expectations on women to look a certain way and to age without ageing (how crazy is that).
But I know this – I want to like how I look. I don’t want my appearance to be a barrier to what I do in life. I can’t really change how I look, not without a huge amount of effort and cost, so why not try to like the skin I’m in?
10 Things I’m Doing To Like My Body More
Before you switch off and think, ‘well exercise is changing how you look’, think again.
For me, exercise is about keeping fit and building a strong body; it’s not about losing weight. Many of my friends, after having children, have found this too. We have become less focused on how our bodies look and are more focused on trying to maintain health and strength.
Exercise for me is fundamental to my life not only because of the amazing health benefits but it makes me feel good about my body and good about myself.
The Women’s Sport Foundation report, Her Life Depends On It III: Sport, Physical Activity, and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls and Women, documents the important role physical activity can play in helping to prevent the daunting array of health risks for girls and women, such as cancer, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, eating disorders, illicit drug use, obesity, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy, and tobacco-related disease.
Admittedly, I don’t always have time to exercise. With working and having kids, it can be difficult to fit in, but I try.
In a previous post I jokingly said, ‘why am I expecting the body of a 20-year-old?’ There are few positive examples of ageing in the media, right now. And when all you see are images of 20-year-olds, it’s hard to be realistic (and positive) about your own body as you get older. But we do need to be realistic.
Yes, I have cellulite, show me a woman who doesn’t. Yes, I have saggy skin on my tummy after having two kids and love handles on my sides. So what!
I am ageing and I suppose I can either embrace it or bow to the pressures from society and the media by constantly searching for ways to look more youthful and in the process, feel pretty horrid about how my body looks. Choose the first option – embrace it.
Be Nicer To Yourself
A friend of mine said, ‘sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and say these really horrid things to myself.’
How many of us are guilty of this? Why do we find it so hard to be nice to ourselves and so much easier to be critical? I’ve become more aware of what I’m saying about myself (in my head) and I’m being more positive. Swap out the negative self-talk for positive self-talk. It may feel completely unnatural and a little contrived at first but persevere with it.
It’s also good, if you have kids, to let them hear you saying positive things about your body.
Question What You See In The Media
Become more media literate. Media literacy is about analysing, evaluating and understanding the media and building up the ability to question what we see.
If the woman in the image you are looking at is 40 or 50-years-old and has no wrinkles, then the image is likely to have been airbrushed. How often does the media play on our insecurities?
If we begin to question what we see then we can begin to make the choice not to view it.
Another great one for our kids to learn too.
Find Some Me-Time
Often me-time is the last thing on our minds but it’s important to try to fit some in.
When I remove myself from the pressures of work, from the pressures of running a home and caring for the kids, I am able to stop and re-boot myself. And I become calmer, my mind clearer and this allows me to be more positive and less draw into negative thinking and negative self-talk.
Take The Focus Off Your Looks
Stop focusing on your looks and think about all the other amazing qualities that you have.
Rach (a friend) commented, ‘it’s not all to do with how we look, you know. When we get judged by our looks, all the other stuff that makes us who we are gets forgotten. All the amazing skills and experience that we have, for example. And I think we need to stop judging each other.’
Sadly, I think the emphasis on looks starts early on in life. As a mum of a boy and a girl, it’s fascinating to see how boys and girls are treated differently. Little girls are often told how pretty they are, with boys you tend to get more comments around their abilities such as how fast they are or how clever they are.
So how do we de-emphasise looks? Try to stop judging yourself purely on your appearance and look at all the other great qualities and talents that you have, what you have achieved throughout your life and career, what aspirations and goals you have.
Try To Accept Who You Are And What You Look Like
Easier said than done but I think again this is down to how you talk to yourself.
My friend, Lisa, commented, ‘for me it’s genetic. I can do a certain amount towards it but bad legs are in the family and I don’t beat myself up about it anymore.’ I wonder who defined bad legs? Lisa probably, with some input from society.
Try to accept what your body looks like. There is no-one quite like you.
Stop The Comparisons
How many times have you compared your body to a friend’s or even to a celebrity? A few times, maybe?
Most of the time when we compare ourselves it’s done in an unfavourable way. If you’re a size 14 and regularly compare your body to a woman who is a size 8, then you are never going to be happy with the way you look. And it makes no sense, whatsoever. STOP it.
Reduce The Number Of Times You Check Yourself In The Mirror
Gemma said, ‘we don’t have mirrors in our house bar a teeny one. I get ready and I don’t know what I look like. If I don’t have a mirror I feel so much better about myself.’
I’m not as brave as Gemma; I need to know what I look like before I leave the house in a morning but she does have a valid point. If the mirror has become a means of evaluating yourself negatively and you’re looking in the mirror numerous times a day, then it’s time to reduce how often you do it. And, when you do look in the mirror, try to focus on the aspects of your body that you like.
Get More Confident With What You’re Wearing
Natalie commented, ‘I never used to wear tight clothes, if fact I used to wear quite baggy and shapeless clothes. I suppose I was a bit nervous of them but I thought why not. Wearing figure hugging clothes has made me feel great and more confident in myself.’
I have one particular dress; it’s black and has lace on the shoulders. When I put it on, I immediately feel better about myself. It accentuates my body in all the right places; it hides the parts that I don’t particularly like. And when I wear it, for some reason I walk taller, I hold my body in a more confident manner and I get lovely compliments.
My point is stop hiding behind baggy, shapeless clothes unless of course, you love baggy, shapeless clothes. Find clothes that suit your shape and wear your clothes with pride. If you’re struggling with knowing what suits you, there are loads of books out there (and I would think videos on YouTube).
Invest in good underwear. A well-fitting bra can do wonders for your figure. Helen, 44, ‘I learnt that I’ve been wearing the wrong size bras for the last 10 years! I had a fitting last year and it made such a difference to my posture and how well my clothes fitted. Fully recommend it.’
And whilst I advocate embracing your body shape, sometimes I’m all for a little help in the underwear department. Breast-feeding has taken its toll on my boobs and I often wear a padded bra which gives me that little bit more volume.
Let me know your tips for loving your body more. Email me at email@example.com.