The Truth About Body Confidence
The Truth About Body Confidence
Sjana Elise Earp
When reading the below, please try to keep an open mind.
Too often when I talk about body confidence and try to encourage self acceptance and self love, people often respond with things like "easy for you to say", or "says the skinny girl".
These responses instantly spark a sense of defensiveness in me. I don't know if it is because I am somewhat personally offended that my message was misunderstood and overlooked or I'm offended because I KNOW that body confidence isn't a physical state, but a mental state.
Regardless, those reactions are the reasons I feel the need to make these posts and videos in the first place.
It is still a common misconception that body confidence is a certain weight or size or shape. This couldn't be further from the truth. Body confidence is finding love and acceptance for your physical form INCLUDING all of your perceived imperfections. Body confidence is something so many people struggle with (regardless of their size!), and not because they need to be, but because:
1. It seems to be more socially acceptable to criticise oneself than to compliment oneself.
2. Society and the media often present a certain stereotype and rarely remember to celebrate the undeniable beauty of the diversity between figures. No body type or shape is any better than any other. They are just simply (and wonderfully) different.
3. Satisfaction is rare. As humans we are somewhat pre-programmed and hard-wired to become dissatisfied. Regardless of what we have already, we always seem to crave MORE or something BETTER.
Personally, I think this desire for growth can be a pivotal point in promoting positive change in our lives. However, this deep, consuming dissatisfaction could also be the reason we seem to be incapable of finding true contentment and satisfaction.
You don't need to be like others.
You don't need to lose 10kg to become happy.
You don't need to be skinny to be self confident.
All you need is to find gratitude for the things you DO have and find love and respect for the body you call yours and all of the incredible things that body allows you to do.
- Is a state of mind NOT a physical state.
- Is your belief and thoughts about what your body can DO, how it can move, what it can sense, and what feels GOOD.
- Is not a certain weight, size, shape or colour!
I had the exact same body size, shape and weight at 18 years of age as I do now at age 22. But I have COMPLETELY different confidence levels.
At age 18 I was insecure, self conscious, self critical and negative towards my body. I would exercise to punish myself, not to love myself. I was SO deeply concerned about what others thought of me, and based not only my self confidence but also my overall VALUE purely on my appearance.
I remember crying to my mum, more than once, saying how I felt like I was “only a body” and that people didn’t appreciate, respect or love me for who I was as a human. They focused on what I looked like. And in retrospect, they did that because I allowed them to. I used to show off my body, seek attention and words of affirmations around my body, because that is what I thought gave me value and worth. Ultimately, it just made me completely miserable, self critical and feel incredibly empty.
My body hasn’t changed, but my mindset has. Now, I respect and love my body. I am thankful for all of the things it enables me to do, like moving, breathing, swimming, hugging and exploring.
I treat my body right, fuel it with good clean, healthy foods because I want to nourish it. Not punish it. I keep myself active because it makes both my body AND my mind feel good. I speak well of myself to myself and don’t allow others to speak negatively of me either. I also encourage them not to speak ill of themselves. I try to spread messages of body positivity, love and self acceptance because I know how much brighter and more colourful life is when you don’t see yourself as a body with a mind, but rather a mind who has a body.
And over the last four years, these are some tips I’ve learned to help you feel greater body confidence:
1. Be mindful of your conversation
Ban discussion of weight, diet, size, shape, weight loss and use of words such as fat, overweight, obese or ugly when talking with your friends and peers. Make your friendship circle a “fat-talk”-free zone. Research has shown that when this sort of conversation starts, we typically respond with an even more negative comment about our own body shape, size or weight in an attempt to make our friends feel better about themselves. This same research shows that this type of talk makes EVERYONE feel worse about themselves. NO ONE leaves that conversation with any healthy self esteem. NO ONE benefits. Remember you are smart, interesting, considerate, unique women and you have many more interesting and useful things to talk about. Put some energy into clever ways to divert conversations to more nurturing, useful and interesting, or at least more neutral, topics.
2. Talk in positive terms.
Reflect to yourself, or with others, on what your body experiences and accomplishes and how it makes you “feel” (NOT how it makes you “look”). Talk about what your body has been “doing”. The same research as above shows that talk about exercise can be helpful toward building body confidence. Talk in POSITIVE terms about what your body can DO.
3. Challenge that negative self-talk and that inner critic in your head.
Point out to yourself that those thoughts are just plain rude, mean and judgemental. You wouldn’t say those things to other people so DON’T SAY THEM TO YOURSELF! If you notice you are being horrible to yourself, try coming back with a smart and witty response to your inner critic. If it feels like you have your own bully living inside your head, ignore it, or come back with a smart one-liner that would put a bully in their place. If the voice and words in your head remind you of another time, place or another person’s words, say just that and point out to yourself that those words, comments and criticisms aren’t going to bother you anymore, because you are in control and will not be intimidated or controlled anymore.
4. Try a little self compassion.
Do things simply because it makes your body feel good! Burn incense, have a bubble bath, go for a run, bounce on a trampoline, try yoga, play with your pet, walk to your secret place and just sit and meditate, paint a picture, write a poem, get a massage, climb a tree, ride your skateboard, learn Zumba — whatever you want!
5. Empower yourself.
Empower and give yourself permission to feel good about your body, to embrace and love your body as unique, and celebrate all that your body allows you to experience and accomplish.
Simple as that.
* Results from BAM may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.