Body Image: Self-esteem, relationship with yourself and building confidence

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Bodies come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, heights, widths and types, and no one body is the same. With body positive influencers flooding Instagram and a significant improvement made in fashion inclusivity, it has never been a better time to review the relationship we have with our bodies. There is no longer space to hate our cellulite, cover our stretch mark or feel self-conscious about the rolls that accumulate when we are in a seated position, because these are (as we’ve known for years) part and parcel of our functioning physical beings.

Social media may have placed spotlight on airbrushed, photoshopped, glossy images but equally it has also been used to tear down this unrealistic beauty standard we’ve seen on the covers of magazines for decades. The trouble is, we now have a source for seeking approval. And when an image doesn’t get the expected results such as the number of likes, comments and general engagement, we turn this disappointment inwards to our already lacking self-esteem. We see it as a reflection of ourselves rather than other factors that play into social media exposure (ahem, Instagram algorithm).

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is essentially the foundation of the relationship we have with ourselves. And when it’s lacking, or perhaps absent, it’s impossible to build a healthy, positive relationship with our bodies. Positive self-esteem builds our resilience to passing comments and how we interpret them as well as our supposed flaws, insecurities and more.

How can I better my self-esteem?

Self-esteem doesn’t rely on weight gain, weight loss, number decrease or number increase, it relies on your mindset and attitude. No matter what your body looks like, it is yours and it is wonderful. Sadly, society has drilled into us a notion that if our bodies don’t look like what we see in glossy mags, it’s not worthy enough. Reality stars and celebrities alike promote diet pills, liposuction, waist trainers and more – these “are” the things that will help you look like their photoshopped selves.

Not all influencers do fall or have fallen into this trap, in fact it’s thanks to several body positive influencers that I have been able to embrace my own body over the last year, something that has been particularly challenging with weight gain that I can only blame on lockdown and my love for food! Tik Tok as a platform has also helped in our progression towards normalising normal bodies, with fashion being shown on all ranges of shapes, sizes and types with complete confidence. We all deserve to feel confident about our bodies when we are dressed up in dresses and when we are naked.

How do I build confidence with myself?

Everybody deserves to feel good about their body. Confidence shouldn’t be a thing of the future that arrives once you lose or gain some pounds. Sometimes it is a case of faking confidence until you start to believe it, but with regards to the sensitive relationship we can have with our bodies, how we speak to it, treat it and perceive it will ultimately reflect where we stand confidence wise. Faking it isn’t an option, we must address our bodies and the relationship we have with it. It isn’t an overnight process, it takes time, dedication, work and lots of loving, but the journey can be wonderful once you give yourself the permission to embrace your flaws, marks and more – these are your beauties after all.

Get used to seeing your naked body in the mirror, wear clothes that embrace and accentuate your figure – not drown it out, follow body posi influencers on social media who reflect your body type (even if they don’t, their message is what matters). Each day, pour a little bit of love onto your insecurities just like you would hydrate a plant little by little, not all at once. And soon you will find that your plant is flourishing i.e. you are learning to love the body that keeps you cosy in the winter and cool in the summer.

This is a mental process, it’s not about losing or gaining weight, or about scrubbing your skin red raw to rid cellulite, it’s about learning to love your body how it is, as it is right now. It’s time you stop letting numbers and labels define you. The most important thing of all is that YOU feel good about yourself and your body. And not because social media has given you the heads-up, but because you have made that choice yourself.

Posted by

Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.

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