Yes, strange title but I’m hoping you’ll catch on in a minute…
Body Image (noun) - the perception a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception.
Body Image; it sounds like such an ugly word, but why is that? Maybe it’s because more times than not we associate body image as something negative, the way we view our self, the way we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else. It feels almost as if we are playing tug of war with our mind and when our mind wins we feel like the ultimate failure sending you spiraling into an anxiety attack.
How can we stop this? How can we stop the torture chamber that we are constantly putting ourselves through? Let me ask you this. If your friend started putting themselves down and saying “My legs are fat, I wish I could be like a model and not put any weight on” would you:
A) Put them down even further and agree with what they are saying
B) Encourage them to think and view themselves the way you see them (in a positive light)
Fill yourself up with that same over flow of positivity that you shoot out to your friends and loved ones. Stand in front of a mirror and give yourself three compliments (note: they don’t have to be about your physicality). You are so much more than your body or your appearance, how you act towards others and most importantly towards yourself shows your true beauty. Beauty is not defined by dozens of chemical makeup, hair products or designer high heels, beauty is about wearing your heart on your sleeve and giving to others unconditionally, beauty is passion, beauty is love, beauty is compassion, beauty is simplicity, beauty is understanding, beauty is in everything you see.
Imagine you are walking down a garden and you spot a flower - just one amongst all the others in the garden, what do you admire most about it? What features made it stand out so gently? It grabbed your attention in a subtle way and now you can’t stop but smile and literally ‘smell the roses’. YOU are that flower, gently growing and blooming in your own unique and beautiful way. I like to refer to myself as a sunflower because like a sunflower I am constantly growing and thriving off positive energy, love, happiness and sunshine and before you question; yes, I too have bad body image days. I have been on my own personal, emotional roller-coaster with my mind and body (playing a rebellious game of tug of war). There was a time period last year where I couldn’t face myself in the mirror without crying or feeling some sort of hatred towards myself. I would constantly receive genuine compliments by others around me and instead of saying ‘thank you’, I would let the compliment wash away like water down a drain because I simply could not see what they saw and because of this I became severely depressed. I wasn’t loving myself in any manner. So what changed?
Self-love and a whole lot of hard work (and time because nothing changes overnight - you are human), but to get back to my point self-love saved me!! It reminded me of my worth on my lowest of days and helped me to push through onto the next. I suddenly became a magnet for people that were also practicing self-love and fell in love that so many others like myself were learning and feeling the same radical emotions as I was, my heart knew strongly that this was my truth and I am forever grateful that it has helped me to heal, to grow and to strengthen- not just my heart; but my spirituality and relationship with the Universe.
Another thing that helped to change my perspective and see myself in a different light was the experience of getting a professional photoshoot done. The preparation, the atmosphere on the day and then seeing the results moved me to tears. It was almost like someone had opened a new door and for the first time I could breathe in fresh air, I was seeing and understanding what others saw and from that day it started to become easier slowly but surely to understand that self-care isn’t selfish. Throwing myself a compliment when I’m wearing a bomb a** outfit is perfectly acceptable and that even when I have my bad days, I know that there is hope for a new tomorrow. Now I’m not saying that you have to go do as I did as I’m well aware that it’s not exactly in everyone’s budget, but another alternative would be to start an album in your phone and title it ‘Body Positivity’ as I did two years ago and then start filling it with photos of yourself (not limited to selfies, glamorous pictures, no makeup pictures etc.). Once you start to view yourself in different perspectives other than the one you are used to viewing, your world will change!
Here are some other things you can try to improve your body positivity:
· Have a mini photoshoot at home or simply whip out your phone and start snapping
· Thank your body for the amazing gifts it has and provides
· Moisturize/pamper your skin and practice being mindful
· Follow people on social media who also practice body positivity (I recommend watching ‘Embrace’ by Taryn Brumfitt)
· Focus on the positive aspects of who you are
Nobody else is you!! Nobody else can do the brilliant, and amazing things just like you can. You are on this planet for a purpose. One of my all-time favourite quotes says “Everything happens for a reason” and to me that translates to mean that in any given situation the outcome will happen as its meant to. It gives me a moment to breathe and have hope again, knowing that everything will be okay.
Last week on two separate occasions I was sitting down with a close girlfriend and somehow the topic of body image came up. The first time the conversation looked like this “Oh my gosh I want your boobs and your figure” - to which I replied “I want your waist and stomach”, almost as if to imply that we can exchange and refund our bodies for another’s. Your body is yours, you have the ability to change and modify it through healthy forms, but you are unique and beautiful just as you were made. On the second occasion a girlfriend opened up about how she disliked certain body parts of hers and then we started talking about it until it struck me that no matter what shape or size you are today you are doing the best that you can and that is enough and it’s likely that your Mum, sister or best girlfriends might be feeling the same as you so it definitely helps to lean on each other.
I’m grateful that my friends felt like they could turn to me and open up about how they were feeling. Please help someone you care about today to start “that awkward conversation” and know that you are beautiful. Today & Always!!
Written by Emily Vassallo