How to love your body.
This is something that many people seem to struggle with at one point or another. With the rise of social media, photo retouching and cosmetic surgery - there's more focus than ever on our bodies and appearance. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing! More and more I'm seeing diversity in bodies and beauty standards being shared online. There's just something about seeing someone else with a similar body to you that makes you feel good. The #bodypositive movement has taken a stand to help encourage people to have a more affirming attitude towards their body. But really it's something that we all need to do for ourselves every single day.
So, how do we actually love our body? Here are some tips that I have discovered on my journey to loving my body. 1. Stop comparing yourself to others. It seems an impossible feat, but it's crucial in the process of really loving your own body. Everyone is different. We know this. So why do we fight so hard to be the same as others? It's so easy to look at other people and admire their hair, or their skin, or their eyes - and in turn look at yourself with feelings of inadequacy. You don't have to look like anything in particular to love your body. You actually don't. You can be the ugliest, weirdest looking person on the planet and still show love to your body. Because why not? It's not like only a particular type of body deserves love. How messed up would that be? Every body deserves to be loved - by others and by yourself. And it's not a competition. Just because someone else has perfect boobs and you don't - doesn't change the love you need for yourself. Can you imagine if you stopped loving your partner, just because some other dude had better abs than him? Ridiculous, right? You love your partner just the way they are. Regardless of how everyone else looks in comparison to them. And you should treat yourself the same way. Other people having more 'perfect' bodies than you, doesn't mean you should love yours any less. We've all got parts of our body that aren't as perfect as someone else. Even the perfect people! 2. Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you cannot accept. This is up for debate, as I know a lot of people think you shouldn't change anything about yourself. As a person who is constantly trying to improve and develop and be the best person I can be - I'm totally down for people changing. That's not to say you have to change to love yourself - but it could help you on the road to loving your body. For me, my entire life I absolutely loathed my hair. I just hated it. It never felt right or looked right. It wasn't me. The best thing I ever did was shave my head when I was 19 years old. Suddenly I felt and looked more like the Erika that I was inside. And I was able to make a hefty deposit into my body-loving bank account. Accepting the things you cannot change is probably the harder of the two! It's taken me many many years to fully accept and love all the parts of my body that I never really liked. Weirdly, you don't have to like everything about your body in order to love your body. Just in the same way that you don't have to like everything about another person to love them. For instance, I've never liked my skin, but heck, it's part of me and I love it. 3. Actually show your body love. When you love another person, you have to show them - so that they know you love them. Right? So if you never show your body love, how is it supposed to know that you love it? If you're not familiar with The Five Love Languages, I suggest giving this a read. Basically this dude wrote a book on how to show love to another person. But I think it's super super helpful to apply in showing yourself love, too. The 5 things are: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. Supposedly we each have a primary love language that we respond best to (take the test here). I score highly in physical touch and quality time, which makes a lot of sense when I think about how I show love to my body. Exercise is a huge one for me! I've only been exercising for the last 4 years, and it has had a huge impact on how I feel about my body. Just to clarify, I haven't lost any weight or changed my physical appearance significantly. The actual act of taking the time to focus purely on my body, and the experience of feeling it move, is everything for me. I go for a walk every single day - this is an hour of time I give to myself to focus purely on me. This quality time shows my body that I care about it. Going to the Myotherapist is something I do mostly every month, and it's blissful. The massage therapist works all the knots and tension out of my muscles - and hits the reset button on my body. I love doing this, obviously as physical touch is a big one for me, it makes me feel like I'm taking good care of my body. Perhaps gift giving is the thing that really makes you feel love? There are probably lots of gifts you can give your body to show it love. Maybe it's new clothes, or a body wash that smells amazing, or underwear that makes you feel good, or a piece of cake! Maybe words of affirmation are what really connects you to feelings of love. Maybe telling yourself some positive things when you look at the mirror will help. Or putting some inspirational quotes up on the wall to make you feel good!
Loving your body is not a one off action or a quick fix. Just like loving another person, you have to put it into action and give it attention to maintain a healthy sense of love and positivity. I'd be keen to hear people's thoughts on how they maintain loving their body, or if any of my tips resonated with you!