MORE THAN JUST A BODY: How to Maintain a Positive Body Image
“Try focusing on what you have, as opposed to what you don’t have. You are badass and empowering in your own way, so embrace your scars, your cellulite, and your stretch marks as they are all beautiful. Try looking into the mirror every day and naming three things that you love about yourself instead of putting yourself down for not having the same body type as the person next to you."
by Helena Nikitopoulos
Helena is a fourth year English student at Western University with a passion for writing. Follow her on Instagram: @helenanfitness
Growing up as both a competitive dancer and track and field runner, I often felt like I wasn’t strong or muscular enough as the other dancers in my class or the runners on my team. Instead, I believed I was “too” skinny and constantly put myself down for not fitting in. On the other hand, whenever I went on social media, images of bikini models flooded my screen, making me wonder if perhaps I wasn’t skinny enough.
After years of having an unhealthy mindset where I continuously punished myself for eating something unhealthy by working out, I finally realized it was time for me to look in the mirror and be proud of who I was rather than try to meet the unhealthy expectations I set for myself.
Writing this now, I am so proud at how far I have come. I am able to eat an ice cream or an extra-large burger without feeling guilty, workout, not as punishment but as a past time, and look at my body in the mirror without disliking everything that I saw. It is crucial to remind oneself that you are never remembered by someone for your ‘perfect’ body but for your kind heart and energetic laugh; for being the one who saw them when no one else did.
In order to help those who are also dealing with negative body image thoughts, I have composed 4 important points on how to maintain a body positive image.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Try focusing on what you have, as opposed to what you don’t have. You are badass and empowering in your own way, so embrace your scars, your cellulite, and your stretch marks as they are all beautiful. Try looking into the mirror every day and naming three things that you love about yourself instead of putting yourself down for not having the same body type as the person next to you. In some cases, even the person next to you could be insecure about their own body so appreciate your body for everything that it is.
Remember that no one’s body is perfect
Just as there is no such thing as a perfect personality type, there is no such thing as a perfect body type. Everyone looks different and it is one of the reasons that the world remains both beautiful and dynamic. I used to hate my knobby knees and extremely long arms but now I embrace them as they are a part of me. All of my imperfections show my authentic, natural, and REAL self so instead of putting it down I have decided to embrace it. To whoever is reading this, your body might have some imperfections (everyone’s does) but that’s what makes it both unique and beautiful; love your body because it’s the only one you’re ever going to have.
Remember that your body has carried you through both the good and the bad
Through both the good and the bad parts of your life, you were never alone. Your body lifted you up during your most painful moments where you felt as if your throat had clogged up and as if your eyes were wells overflowing with tears. Your body has been there for you when you succeeded at something or accomplished something you worked hard for. Your body has always been there to lift you UP so don’t put it DOWN. Instead, give it the same love it has given you.
Your worth is defined by more than your appearance
Having a huge heart is way more important than having a ‘perfect’ body. While you may have a small thigh gap or the perfect torso, your heart is what people will always love you for. Ask yourself, “am I good a good person on the inside? Do I treat people with respect?”. If you answered yes to these questions, chances are, you are leaving a greater and much more positive impact on people than you might think. Moreover, your worth is much more relevant than your outer appearance, so instead of validating someone’s extremely long legs or their strong arms, validate their heart, their mind, and their soul. After all, “outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates” – Kate Angell.