January is here, and so are all the messages about ‘being different to how you were last year’. This includes but is not limited to, the toxic messages about weight loss and everything that is wrong with our bodies. Very handily, they not only give us the insecurities about our bodies, but they also provide the ‘solutions’ to the problems too…

Got cellulite? We’ve got firming cream that will make you acceptable to us.

Got hairy legs? We’ve got razors, and they are more expensive if you buy the ones for woman because we are trying to squeeze you dry. But it’s worth it because smooth legs mean you will be desired more.

Got spots? We got the antidote. Perfect skin means a perfect life after all.

Got a tummy? Not allowed I’m afraid, we are going to need to sell you some diets shakes and potentially a membership to your local ‘slimmer’s  club’.

You get the gist, now let’s get into it.

From very early on we are surrounded by ideas of what we need to look like in order to fit in, be accepted and be loved. It’s all a construct, made up with what’s fashionable at that moment in time. Like shoulder pads, body types come in and out of fashion. Same as hairstyles, freckles, big boobs/small boobs and 1000 other things.

The thing is your body is not an item of clothing that you can trade in every time it’s decided that it’s out of fashion and a new design is in. Plus, a lot of the things we are told are wrong or we need to change is just the body being, well, a human body. Cellulite for instance, why do we need to get rid of our cellulite? It’s something that 90% of women have and cannot control. Why is it bad? Why do we need to get rid of it.  Answer, we don’t.

Even knowing this, it’s still a very seductive concept. That we can go out and (ensuring we have enough money) buy a product that will ‘fix our flaws’ and therefore our insecurities. We can buy into a new scheme or diet plan and convince ourselves that if we change the way we look, it will make us happier and more accepted.  

The big question is, how are we meant to accept out bodies (or even just be neutral with them) in a world that is telling us not to? Here’s some tips that I have picked up along the way.

Your body is the least interesting thing about you.

This may sound harsh at first but give it a minute and you’ll realise it’s true. You’ve just been led to believe that what you look like is more important than any of the other wonderful things about you.

If you are looking to make a change to your appearance, take it back to the why.

Why do you want to make the changes (whatever they may be)? Is it from a place of love for yourself and an expression of who you are? Or it is an attempt to fit in and feel accepted?

The size of your arse does not dictate your worth.

 Your worth is not defined but what your body looks like, how much you weigh or the size of your jeans.

Get Comfortable!

Buy bigger clothes (or smaller clothes). Clothes are meant to fit your body, not your body fit into the clothes. We understand that this is a privilege as we don’t all have spare cash lying around for this. But, if you are able to, choose one item that you wear on a daily basis and get a size that fits your beautiful body right now. There are plenty of second-hand marketplaces now that make it very easy to pick up second hand clothes at good prices. Also, a note for the summer months, wear chub rub shorts. They will change your life.

Your body knows what it’s doing.

Your body only cares about keeping you alive and does not care about what that looks like. There is more and more research* coming out all the time on the long-term implications of dieting and restriction and the many varied effects on your body. Your body is a complex mass of processes that tries it hardest to keep the status quo. Understanding this can help you to have more kindness towards your body because really, she is just doing what she knows how and she’s doing it excellently.

*Disclaimer- I am not an expert or health professional. If you want to know more, make sure you go to a qualified individual who knows what they are doing. There are loads of amazing professionals out there who are clued up and won’t throw diet culture disguised as health at you.

Be kind.

To yourself and to those around you. You will have good days and bad days with your body image. Its also good to remember that other people might be in a different place in their exploration of body acceptance.

You are allowed to put in boundaries around diet talk/ body shaming etc.

That’s right, you are allowed to do this with your friends, family, and colleagues. You can also ask people not to comment on your body.

Stop judging others and yourself by outward appearances.  

You might notice that your thoughts on others may come as a direct result of how you look at yourself. Notice them and have a look into where they might be coming from. Same goes for when you look in the mirror, you deserve be treated with respect and without judgement.

Do things for your body out of love, not hate.

Choosing to do things for your body because you love it! Not because you hate it.

If you want to take up running, are you wanting to do it because you know it will make you feel good and you enjoy it? Or is it to punish yourself and change the way you look? Doing things for yourself out of love feel very different and tend to add to you life rather than restrict or takeaway from it. For instance, you might love walking and decide you want to improve your cardio fitness and endurance to get better at it. This enables you to tackle bigger walking challenges and maybe even climb mountains. To achieve this you need to look after you body and get it prepared for the challenge. This will add to your life not take away from it.

Get Help.

Try counselling to work through your relationship with your body.

Waist trainers are bollocks.

Don’t get tempted by the crazy weight loss products and aids(Waist trainers/shakes/restrictive dieting regimes). A note to remember, if you are ever tempted by those terrible skinny teas. They will leave you with nothing but a depleted bank account, a ridiculous amount of time spent on the loo and the in constant risk of sharting.

Speak nicely.

Talk to yourself like you would your bestie.

Curate your feed!

This is a big one. This is all about creating an online space that is supportive and wonderful. Here are some of my favourites:

I hope these tips have you feeling armed and more prepared for the world. It’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint in working towards body acceptance or neutrality. You might enjoy this article ‘ Health and thinness are not the same thing’ by Ona Croft, Registered Nurse.

Over to you, want to write about it? Get in touch. Want to talk about it? Drop a comment here or on our Instagram and let us know what you think.

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