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Today’s email is all about practical, doable, actionable steps you can take to improve your body image and buck the system that tries to keep you down. Here we go!
Make a like list
Make a list of 10, 20, 100 things that you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your size, shape, weight, or appearance.
Post this somewhere you can see it and be reminded often that your worth is not dictated by your looks.
Despite what patriarchy would have you believe, you are not simply an object to be gazed upon. You are so much more than that!
Wear clothes that make you feel good
Are you holding on to clothes that are supposed to “motivate” you to lose weight and fit back into them? Are you stuffing yourself into too-small clothes because you don’t want to admit you’ve gone up in size? Or maybe you’re burying yourself in too-large clothes because you want to hide your body.
Rather than worrying about trends or what’s flattering, wear clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good about your body.
Adorn yourself in a way that reflects how you feel on the inside.
Or opt out of adornment and fashion. There’s freedom in that, and it’s a legit choice, too.
Seek out your own images of beauty & worth
If you’re in a body that isn’t part of the dominant beauty standard (if you’re fat, disabled, a person of color, trans, etc.) then the narrow definition of beautiful isn’t reflective of you.
“…if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” -Junot Diaz
We have to seek out our own images of beauty that reflect us.
Visibility and representation is crucial.
In my early 20s, when I found my first plus size fashion community on Livejournal, seeing other fat bodies that looked like mine was hugely transformational for me.
I could see that folks in bodies like mine looked totally cool in flamboyant, bright clothing and body-conscious silhouettes. I could see that other women had rolls in those places, had cellulite there, had the same “weird” skin stuff that I had, had non-perky breasts like mine, had bellies.
This made me feel less alone, less like a “freak”.
Freak would be my natural conclusion if I based my worth on what mainstream media and society shows me is worthy, because I am not that. I started to realize that if I could observe a fat woman dressed in a “daring” way, and think that she looked hot, maybe I could also be hot.
Mainstream media isn’t going to show you these images of beauty. You’ll have to seek them out yourself. But where?
People watching. There are normal, everyday, HOT people all around you. Observe and appreciate that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and expressions.
Classical art. I love walking through an art museum and appreciating the body diversity depicted in portraiture and sculpture. I bet you’ll find yourself reflected there. Check out Reubens and Botero for a start.
Photography projects. The Adipositivity project and Leonard Nimoy’s Full Body Project are a good place to start.
The Internet. Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook are full of groups, hashtags, and feeds you can tailor to your interest. Want to tweak your presentation to be more androgynous? Want to learn to pose for photos in your wheelchair? Need advice on dressing a plus size body? There’s a group/ thread/hashtag for this. Do some investigating and find your people.
Reprogramming our brains to find beauty in a variety of presentations will help us to unlearn the crap that society has tried to sell us, and more easily appreciate our own beauty.
Demonstrate Your Worth with Self-Care
Practicing self-care demonstrates to yourself (and to others) that you’re worthy of attention care. I find it a lot harder to be totally pissed off at my body if I am tending to my needs and taking care of myself.
Seek out baseline measures of self-care: drinking enough water, eating nourishing food, getting enough sleep, doing practices that help keep your stress levels down (breathing practices, yoga, meditation), seeking out pleasurable sensations, taking a multivitamin, keeping your body clean.
Be curious and discover your baseline measures of self-care that tell you, I’m well. I’m being as well as I can be in the body that I’ve been given.
When you invest time caring for your body in very basic, practical ways such as, How much water did I drink today? Maybe I’m going to stop what I’m doing; I’m going to go into the kitchen and get myself a glass of water because that’s nourishing to my body.
A check-in like this is an excellent way to demonstrate to yourself that your body is worthy of care.
Even if your body isn’t in the best shape of your life. Even if you’re not the most well you’ve ever been.
By taking on this mindset, you’re giving your body the same care you would if it were in the best shape of your life, or the most well you’ve ever been.
Make a List of What You Appreciate About Your Body
Finally, I encourage you to make a list of what you appreciate about your body. Nothing is too big or too small to go on this list. It helps to put items on this list in the format, “I appreciate my [body thing] because it [accomplishes X / causes X pleasurable circumstance].” Here are a few of my examples.
- I appreciate my strong, muscular legs because they carry me wherever I have to go and allow me to continually build strength in my yoga practice.
- I appreciate my softness because my husband loves to snuggle up to me and grab on tight.
- I appreciate my face because it’s exactly halfway between my mom and my dad’s looks and I like being reminded of them when I see myself.
- I appreciate my teeth because they’ve always been naturally healthy and strong and I haven’t had any dental problems.
- I appreciate my eyes because they’re expressive and show me all the beauty in the world.
What’s next? I can’t believe it – the Body Positive Rebellion is coming to a close. I want to let you in on a secret: the way to keep this positive, affirming, badass feeling going? It’s being in community.
You deserve representation and support in a circle of diverse, vibrant, fully human, feminist, Body Positive rebels.
And I’ve got good news.
There’s a bunch of us forging a positive path over at the Body Positive Clubhouse.
It’s is an interactive, monthly membership to an inner circle folks just like you AND an online vault of my best body positivity, self-acceptance, yoga and mindfulness resources. I’ll tell you more about it in the next few days, but feel free to check it out now if you want an early look!
Tomorrow I’ve got a couple goodies for you. I think you’re gonna like em.
Have a friend in mind who needs to hear this stuff? Get them to join the Body Positive Rebellion! Share this link to get them signed up >> https://bodypositiveyoga.com/rebellion