I won’t lie, I struggled to write this article.
There were a lot of things that had me struggling; I had a creative block and had no idea where to start, and I myself was not feeling very body positive. I, like many people (so I hear) put on a bit of weight during lockdown and while I actually had Covid, as well as over the last few months at university. I started to fill out my jeans more, and when I went home and went back to my job, I filled out my trousers and bulked in my shirts. I felt ‘fat’, and did not feel comfortable wearing crop tops, and would critique my appearance when I looked in the mirror.
Even after my boyfriend told me for the one hundredth time that I was beautiful and he loved me, it took me a while to start to find love for my body again. In the summers just gone, I didn’t care about my thick thighs and tummy ‘podge’; but I have been looking at myself in the mirror and not liking what I saw. So I decided to take steps to accept my body as it is; in time for summer and the hotter weather, and here’s what I found works:
1: Fake it to you make it
It sounds stupid, but telling yourself you are beautiful and that you can wear that outfit does work. Talking to yourself kindly replaces the negative thoughts, because while it is sometimes outside influences, your biggest critic is yourself. I try to look at photos and in the mirror, smile at myself, and tell myself I am beautiful. I’m starting to believe it.
2: Come off, or change the things you see on, social media
We are ALL subjected to similar things online; models, tiktokers and ‘influencers’ all with the same body type and style. For men and women alike, beauty standards are set by those with thousands of followers and posing in bikinis or shirtless; however not every account and not every person is living that life! Instagram have a new feature to allow you to customise what you see on your feed – if you click the Instagram logo on the left, you can choose to view your ‘favourites’ – and pick accounts you want to see while you scroll! I also have followed accounts with different body types and who promote self love and body positivity; such as @charlotteemilyprice; @megan.carole and @denisemercedes, to name a few.
3: Listen to the positives, not the negatives
I don’t know why I couldn’t hear what my boyfriend was saying to me. He should be the person I can listen to when I need reassurance, but for some reason, the things I felt about myself and the negative voices in my head, won. He wasn’t the only one; friends were positive and kind about my appearance and body; but for some reason I still felt negatively about myself. I decided to start listening to their kind words; and blocking out any other influences.
4: Throw away, or ignore, the weighing scales and the calories
Constantly measuring yourself, counting calories and fixating on your body, will most likely develop an unhealthy relationship with yourself and food. If you want to lose weight, encourage yourself to do it healthily, sensitively and kindly to your body. Maybe try to exercise and keep your mind healthy as well.
5: Remember it is natural
Everyone’s bodies have different reactions to food. And that is okay. Today me and a friend ate out at AskItalian, and after our main courses, we were both bloated. (It did not stop us having dessert). My friend pointed out that we were both bloated; and I looked at us both – there’s me considering myself ‘fat’, and her, with a different body type to me that some would consider ‘skinny’. It’s natural to bloat after a big dinner, and sometimes it’s natural to have bigger thighs or arms; a double chin or dad bod. We all have different body types, and food affects us in different ways; but this idea that this makes us any less beautiful is outdated and damaging. You are beautiful no matter what.
And finally, for the last two years, your body has been fighting to keep you alive. Whether you caught Covid; had symptoms or not; or whether you were struggling with being stuck inside or cooped up away from friends, family and work; you have survived a Global Pandemic. Your body has kept you going this entire time, and you should thank it. Not punish it by hiding it. Every body is a bikini body, so wear one with pride.