Hey friends, my name is Artie I’m a nonbinary writer and creator with a focus on mental and physical health. I am disabled and in the weird zone between mid-size and plus-size. I like to talk about body acceptance and things that have helped me reach the point in recovery and self-acceptance I am at now. I’m here to give you 6 simple tips to self-love that’ll help change your view on yourself and are a good place to start if you’re unsure of where to begin.
Unfollow toxic accounts
We all see the same image when we think of a fitness or health Instagram account and they are often living a life that’s so privileged and out of reach for the average person, they give you more negative feelings than positive ones. There’s often a sense of jealousy or guilt that comes from viewing these accounts 24/7. These women are very slim, fit, eating food made from scratch from organic ingredients, and only show off their stomach rolls when it’s trendy.
We need to remember these people are outliers to the rule, they aren’t working 40+ hour weeks in sedentary jobs, they have the time and money to live this luxurious life and exercise for an hour or more a day with a personal trainer and, let’s be honest, still editing photos or getting body modifications without telling anyone. It’s just unrealistic, so unless you like the person for other reasons like their views on topics you find important, it’s time to unfollow.
One of the ways to self-love and normalise your body in your own eyesis by surrounding yourself with a range of different bodies and bodies closer to your resemblance. Social media is very heavily saturated by straight cisgender white skinny women who are non-disabled, but that’s not the real world. So, I recommend finding amazing women (not just women, also other genders) to follow who bring more to your feed than just stereotypical aesthetics.
Follow people of different races, who live in different places in the world, midsize and plus-size bodies, disabled and chronically ill bodies, tattooed bodies, LGBT+ bodies, and there are many humans whose identities overlap with more than one thing on the list! Seeing people loving their bodies in all states helps rub off some positive energy onto your own body. You don’t have to follow specifically body positive or body acceptance accounts, because there are many people who don’t focus on this particular theme but do a lot of body celebration in their own ways.
I spent a long time feeling self-conscious and wishing I could dress like these girls I followed online. Learning to love and accept myself has led to loving fashion and style so much. The size on the clothes means nothing, this has been debunked time and time again and once you can take on this fact and buy clothes that actually fit you, you will look better because you aren’t trying to squeeze yourself into something too small like a sausage.
You’ll feel more comfortable which will lead to you looking more confident because you aren’t thinking “oh god the button of my jeans is really digging into my stomach!” or “I hope no one can see my rolls”. Start with outfits or items you’ve seen others wear and really like, they might be too much for you right now but your confidence will keep building the more you try things on.
Take photos of yourself
This might sound odd, but when you’re struggling with your appearance you need to take photos. Take loads. Face, body, mirror selfies, go wild. This will help normalise how you look to your brain and eventually learn the art of self-love.
You might think you look crazy bloated right now but look at the pictures later in a better brain space and you’ll see something different and that’ll help you find perspective and be less hard on yourself in moments of low self-esteem. In a world that puts numbers on our worth, from clothing size to weight to inches measured, it can be hard to see your body for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Photos will help you see where your body is and normalise it to your eye. There is a fine line, however, and if you find yourself obsessing, it’s time to step away!
Focus on what your body does right
As a chronically ill person, this has been a really important lesson for me that I think more people could do with learning. It’s easy to think of all the things your body isn’t doing ‘right’ when you are comparing yourself to others and even to what the health ‘experts’ say. If you have a slow metabolism, it’s easy to think “my body is crap it doesn’t work properly because it doesn’t metabolise or burn fat like this person I know.”
Try to catch yourself in those moments and turn the phrase on its head. Something I was thankful for was that my weight had maintained roughly the same for 6 years after battling yo-yo dieting and weight loss weight gain through my teenage years into my 20s. I chose to be thankful that my body had clearly bounced back from this and was healing from the damage that had been done to it for many years. I am also thankful that I am able to enjoy some light exercise now whereas there was a point where I could not get out of bed, either for lack of energy or because of the pain I was in.
Be thankful that you are able to enjoy a special meal, but be careful this doesn’t turn into another type of comparison because you can easily slip into “at least I can do this thing, when this other person I know can’t” because comparison of any kind is not positive.
I feel like we are all taught growing up exercise has to suck and be boring. If you’re fed up of slugging away in a gym for hours on a treadmill, sit back and think about what movement you actually enjoy or would at least like to try.
Do you thrive on teamwork? What group sports teams are in your area you can try? Are you more of a creative person? Is there a style of dance you think would suit you? Are you more interested in slow-moving and feeling your body? Yoga or tai chi are good examples of this! Do you want to be surrounded by other women, or do mixed classes suit you fine? It doesn’t just have to be running on a treadmill or HIIT training. Any movement counts. Even just enjoying a walk.
Focus on creating a positive feeling when you exercise rather than the number of calories burned or minutes trained. Find what makes you feel good in your body and your mind.
I hope these tips are helpful to those of you out there struggling with body image and acceptance. These took me 10 years to learn by myself and it still takes daily practice. No one is perfect, we all have good and bad days, we are human and it’s normal. Try to handle yourself with care when you’re having a low, but I know we can all improve upon our self-perception.