Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lessons :: How Can I Feel More Confident About My Body?

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Anonymous asks:

"How are you so confident with your body? I try really hard, but it's difficult with the constant stream of images that tell me I need to be super skinny. I have never been and never will be super skinny, but I do take care of myself and try to exercise when I can and eat well. I still have a really hard time with body confidence. Any advice on how to increase my body love?"

We all have things that we're insecure about. For example, I think I'm a pretty terrible photographer. Whether or not that's true, it's how I feel and no amount of likes on my Instagram pictures will change that. I've been taking photos just as long as I've been writing (20 years) yet I don't think I'm half as good a photographer as I am a writer. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm much more comfortable being in front of the camera than behind it. However, blogs (and the internet world in general) are so visual that it's pretty much an unspoken requirement that I do post pictures. Plus, even though I don't think I'm good at it, it's fun! So, I push through the insecurity, and I do it anyway.

What I'm saying is, nothing that anyone tells you will change the attitude you have towards yourself -- you'll need to do work on it from the inside out. I'm sure you have been told by loving friends, family members and significant others that your body is perfect the way it is, so I'm not going to tell you that. Those words don't matter if you don't believe it! Inner beauty is so much more important than outer beauty (and, besides, I truly believe that your body size, shape or type has nothing to do with beauty). Once you're in love with the core being of who you are, the love for your appearance comes naturally.

Here are a few exercises that I would suggest you try:

1. Focus on what you like about yourself. Are you a good writer, singer, painter? Can you put together a killer outfit or design nail art like a pro? Focus on the gifts and talents you have on the inside first, then treat yourself with little rewards like a new bracelet or yummy-scented candle.

2. Keep working out, but not to lose weight. If you weigh or measure yourself regularly, stop. When you work out, focus on how blessed you are to have the body you have. Concentrate on the moves that you're doing and how awesome it is that you're able to accomplish them. Try to do something active every day to get your endorphins buzzing; it'll give you a high that will naturally boost your confidence. If you think you don't have time, take away the hour that you spend on Facebook or Pinterest.

3. Be naked as much as possible. Take a bubble bath. Get a massage. Masturbate. Seriously! Try to be in the nude as much as possible until you're comfortable with it. Once you're confident alone and without clothes, you'll have an easier time loving yourself in public with clothes on.

4. Put blinders on. If photos of models in the media are getting you down, throw them away! Stop watching shows or reading magazines that make you feel bad about yourself. Once you've completed the above three tips plenty of times and you're feeling great about your bod, you'll probably be able to view those things again and not compare yourself.

5. Remind yourself that we all have insecurities. Like I said, I'm hard on myself about my photography. As far as appearance goes, I don't like my gray hair, my varicose veins, or my unibrow. But I do what I can to make myself feel better about them, and then I move on! I've learned to not let those things control my life or the way I feel about myself. Everyone has (what they see as) flaws. And, for the record, I've known plenty of skinny girls who weren't excited about their bodies either. In fact, when I was younger and pre-pubescent and shaped like a pencil, I was called 'chicken legs' -- go figure!

You're not alone in how you feel, but you shouldn't let those feelings take over. Learn to separate it: "My body doesn't look like Gisele Bundchen's. So what!? I'm still awesome, and my size has nothing to do with that!" Confidence is all about attitude, and when all else fails, fake it 'til you make it. When I finally did get boobs, I was so self-conscious about them that I purposely wore bras that weren't supportive enough and I'd hunch over. I eventually realized how bad that was for my back and started standing up straight and wearing push-ups. I didn't feel confident, but I certainly looked like it. And soon, that fake titty-love turned into pride. Someday, I promise you'll be proud of yourself too, but you have to CHOOSE that attitude -- it won't just come to you. I know you can do it, and I'll be here to cheer you on along the way!

See more advice posts here and feel free send a question here. (All responses based on my own opinion.)

*Photo found here.
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