Some days you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see.
Your nose is too big. A few lines have started appearing around your eyes. And last night you had a bit too much to eat and it’s now showing a little.
Then you open up your Instagram. Ugh. How is it that everyone seems to look so young and fresh? Their skin is glowing. Their waist so thin. Their smiles pearly white. You feel like an old hag in comparison.
You now feel like shit. You reach for that oversized blouse to hide your tummy, pile on a few layers of makeup to perk up your face and spend the rest of your day fantasising how much better your life would be if only you were thinner/taller/blonder.
You’re now thinking of trying that new diet you read about in Marie Claire yesterday. Vow to go to the gym more often. Maybe you should get highlights, too. But you know it won’t work. You’ve tried all this a hundreds times before and you’re still back to square one. There must be another way.
Here’s the secret: body confidence is an inside job. It’s not something you get when you reach a certain weight or change your hair colour. It must come from within. And so, how do you get it?
Here are 5 unusual ways to improve your body confidence without dieting, dyeing your hair or changing anything about your looks:
Popular wisdom says that if you don’t feel comfortable in your body then you should try to change it. Starve yourself. Eat only kale. Exercise for hours. Every single day.
This is dangerous. Not only fad diets and crazy exercise regimes don’t help you shed the pounds, but they could seriously harm your health. Please, don’t go there.
Even if you have some initial success with fad diets, it’ll only be a matter of time before your body starts craving those delicious foods on the banned list. I know because I’ve tried plenty of fad diets myself. I’d follow them religiously for a few days, then give in and eat a piece of chocolate and fall into a vicious circle of hating myself, binging on junk food, go back on the diet and start it all all over again.
It doesn’t help with body confidence at all.
What really helped was eating mindfully. Listening to what my body craved. Feeding it what it needed to be healthy and strong. Eating whatever I wanted as long as it made my body feel good afterwards.
I don’t mean eating chocolate and cookies all day. I have a very sweet tooth and chocolate definitely makes me feel happy. But afterwards, my body feels tired. My mind is sluggish. My belly starts growling again an hour later.
But eating like a rabbit won’t do either. Nibbling on only lettuce or carrot is… boring. My body craves more variety and flavours.
It’s all about experimenting and finding out what works for you. Eat something you like and see how your body reacts. If afterwards, you’re full of energy, eat more of it. If the food makes you tired, cut back.
When you eat mindfully and give your body everything it needs, you have more energy. Your mood is lighter. You feel more confident in your own skin, too.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Remember when social media was all about discovering what your friends were up to? Now everyone on there seems to be younger than you, prettier than you and making more money than you.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and think they won the genetic lottery, don’t have an ounce of cellulite and look good in every dress they try on. But the truth is, you don’t know what’s going on behind that picture.
What we post on social media is just a highlight reel of our day and a very photoshopped one at that. We all show the photos when we look our best, wearing clothes that flatter us and photoshop the heck out of them so that we look slimmer/taller/prettier. It’s like comparing your real life self to a photoshopped image of a supermodel. Even Cindy Crawford doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford in real life.
But even if someone has indeed won the genetic lottery, it doesn’t mean they have their life all figured out. We all have bad days, inner demons, relationship problems, work issues… No one is perfect or has the perfect life, no matter how perfectly together they seem to have it from the inside.
When you compare yourself to others, you’re comparing your backstage footage to their perfect catwalk snaps. No wonder you feel like crap.
You’re different. Your story is different. Stay focused on your journey. You don’t have to look like a supermodel to reach your destination. Your passion and perseverance will get you there.
Related: 5 Ways To Deal With Comparisonitis
What has kindness got to do with body confidence? Everything.
Kindness makes you feel good and when you feel good about yourself, you feel more confident in your own skin.
So, be kind. Help others whenever you can. Thank people when they help you. Smile at strangers on the street. Be generous with complements. Hold your tongue when you feel like saying something unkind.
Kill negativity with kindness. If someone is saying something mean to you, don’t reply back in spite. Instead, wish them well. Kindness takes bullies by surprise and shuts them up.
For someone to be mean and nasty, they must be in a very bad place themselves. It’s easy to get angry and be mean in return but you don’t know what the other person is going through.
Always act with kindness and compassion in every situation. It’ll brighten the other person’s day and make you feel better too.
We all have body hang-ups. Maybe you don’t like your love handles, can’t stand your cellulite or think your nose is too big. And so you do everything you can to hide it. Don’t wear bikini at the beach. Photoshop your photos. Contour your nose.
But hiding the problem doesn’t make it go away. You may conceal your “flaws” from others but you know they’re there. Your body hate is eating away at your confidence. This isn’t working.
It’s time to try something new: do something to challenge your body hang-ups. If you’re afraid to wear a bikini at the beach, go and do just that. You’ll feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll soon realise no one is paying any attention to how you look. You can relax and have a blast.
But if that’s too scary for you right now, start small. Maybe you can book a confidence shoot with a photographer. Join a dance class. Take up running and train for a marathon. The point is to do something that challenges your perception of your body.
Focus on what your body can do, not how it looks.
When I was living in Italy, a lot of friends and relatives would tell me I was a pretty girl but a little chubby. If I weren’t careful with my food, I’d put on weight.
I believed them. And so I would enter a vicious circle of self loathing, fad diets, binge eating and back to self loathing to start the cycle all over again.
When I moved to London, a funny thing happened. Everyone commented on how skinny I am. They encouraged me to eat more food so I don’t look like a child anymore.
My weight hasn’t changed. I’m still the same weight now I was two years ago. And when I go back to Italy, some of my relatives still comment on my chubbiness.
The point of this story is that everyone has a different opinion about you and how you look. None of these opinions are right or wrong, truth or lie. Opinions aren’t facts. They’re thoughts based on a someone’s beliefs.
What people think of you says a lot more about them than you. If they have a problem with your weight or with the size of your nose, chances are it’s because they have hang-ups about their own weights and size of their noses. And so, be kind.
Don’t take other people’s opinions to heart and don’t base your self-worth on them. People have the right to have their own opinion. You have the right to ignore it. Use it.
Over to you, now. How have you improved your body confidence? Share your story and strategies in the comments below.