Older Sister Advice: Body image
By: Anika In’t Hout
If you have ever had negative thoughts about your body, you’re not alone. With all the messages in magazines, social media and tv that tell you how to reach the “perfect” body, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle with poor body image. Poor body image is this idea of feeling bad about your body when you look in a mirror. When you feel bad about your appearance, it may seem like not a big deal, but it can actually also affect your self-esteem (aka how you value and love yourself as a person). This is why it’s so important to focus on developing a healthy body image where you love and accept yourself right now as you are. So while you won’t be able to develop a healthy body image overnight, by practicing these following tips, you will learn to love yourself and the body you have.
Question the messages you see in the media
When you’re on social media or watching TV, be mindful and challenge what you’re seeing in the media. Pay attention to ads and social media posts that make you feel bad about your body. Then, question the messages you’re seeing. With the help of filters and tools like Photoshop, ads and social media posts make it seem like one kind of body type is beautiful so it’s important to question and challenge what you’re seeing.
Appreciate your body for what it is
From a young age, girls are taught to hate their bodies and try to change them. This is why it is so important to appreciate every part of your body exactly as it is now. We recommend expressing (either in words or out loud) what you love about every part of your body. From your head to your toes, say one thing every day that you love about each body part. It can be an appearance compliment (“I have really pretty eyes”) or a functional compliment (“I love my legs because they help me walk and dance”). It may seem silly at first, but the more times you do it, the easier it will be.
Wear what makes you feel good
When it comes to clothes, dress in a way that makes you feel good as you are now. Whether you like wearing flare jeans, flowy skirts, t-shirts or cardigans, wear what you like, no matter your size.
Surround yourself with positive people
Remember that scene in Mean Girls when they’re all standing in front of the mirror and criticizing their bodies? Yeah, when it comes to building a healthy body image, surrounding yourself with people like that is not helpful. You will have a much easier time loving who you are if you surround yourself with positive and supportive people who love you on the inside and out.
Focus on your achievements
While it is easy to get caught up in focusing on how much you weigh or what you look like, it’s important to also focus on what you do and who you are. Just some ways to do that include watching movies with women accomplishing big things (Legally Blonde, Wonder Woman, On the Basis of Sex, etc.), writing a list of all of your accomplishments, or writing a list of your favourite things about yourself.
Take care of yourself
We will start by saying that to have a healthier body image, you don’t think you need to lose a bunch of weight or start dieting. No, absolutely not. We’re talking about focusing on nurturing and loving your body in healthy ways. Get enough sleep at night, eat healthy but delicious meals, get active and practice self-care are all great ways to let your body know that you appreciate it for everything it does for you.
Challenge negative self-talk
When you look in the mirror or are scrolling on social media, you may notice you tearing yourself down about how you look. You may call yourself names, compare yourself to other girls or point out your own flaws. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and ask yourself, would I talk to a good friend of mine like this? No, probably not. From there, take a deep breath, challenge the negativity and talk to yourself as if you were talking to a good friend.
Final thoughts on body image
Developing a positive body image isn’t always easy, but with these tips, you will learn to love and appreciate yourself for who you are. Remember that it’s not about attaining that perfect body and only you get to decide how you see and feel about yourself, nobody else.
About the Author
Meet Anika, our content creator and copywriter! Even though it’s been a while since she had to deal with the awkwardness of buying her first bra, she is excited to join the Apricotton team and make bra shopping a little bit easier for tween and teen girls. You can connect with her here.