This is a subject that’s very close to my heart as I have struggled with body dismorphia and orthorexia in the past. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition where a person, often a teenager or young adult, is constantly worrying about flaws in their physical appearance. BDD can seriously affect your life and even lead to depression and suicide in extreme cases.
In my early 20’s, I really believed I was too fat and I became obsessed with only eating healthy food. Until recently, I didn’t know that this is an actual eating disorder and that it’s called orthorexia.
I was lucky. I had the support and the will to start thinking differently of myself. It took time and I can still improve but I no longer feel ashamed and obsessed with correcting my flaws. I’ve become much more self-compassionate and I enjoy life on a whole new level. Basically, I don’t let intrusive thoughts kill my vibe anymore!
If you’re having a hard time loving your body, these tips will hopefully help you be kinder to yourself and develop the confidence you’ve been looking for:
1- Clean up your social media
Unfollow people who make you feel bad and follow accounts that actually teach you something, entertain you and/or inspire you.
When I created my professional account on Instagram I noticed how different the feed was compared to my personal one. @estelle.healthcoach is all about health, wellness, self-confidence, mental health, spirituality… So my feed is full of inspirational quotes, people who promote body positivity, tips to improve your health, things to be grateful for, delicious recipes, empowerment for women and a lot more of cool shit. Since I spend way more time on my pro account now, I’ve truly realized how much the people you follow can impact your mood. Seeing people who show their vulnerability is refreshing and refrains us from comparing ourselves to impossible standards all the time. We all have flaws and insecurities so envying others makes no sense when we have no clue about what they’re going through.
2- Show gratitude to your body
Make a list of all the incredible things your body has been able to do for you.
We spend so much time criticizing ourselves when we look in the mirror and we don’t even realize the self-harm we’re causing. Instead of consistently noticing your cellulite, your acne, your scars, your moles, your crooked nose… STOP! And focus on your health and the things your body allows you to do day after day.
For example, I’ve always been self-conscious about my thighs but the truth is, they have taken me to so many places, they make me strong, they allow me to run for miles and support the rest of my body. How could I insult them for so long when they’ve only been good to me? It’s insane!
3- Take care of your body
Change the way you look at food and exercise. They should both be enjoyed and understood as something that keeps your body healthy and strong. Mindful eating will allow you to listen to your body’s cues, to eat the nutrients it needs and not overeat. If exercise feels like torture, you’re probably doing it wrong. Find new ways to move your body, sign into a dance class or go for a bike ride but stop adding stress to your body by feeling obligated to work out to burn calories!
Take time to treat yourself with a massage, a face/hair mask, a bubble bath, essential oils or whatever makes you unwind. Self-care is a priority for you to keep a loving relationship with yourself. It reminds you that you’re important too and that you’re worth it (L’Oréal understood that a long time ago).
4- Take care of your mind
Get used to saying positive affirmations to yourself: “I am beautiful”, “I am kind”, “I am enough”. Writing them on your mirror can remind you to replace inner critic with self-love. When I tried this technique I didn’t really believe it would help me and after a few weeks of seeing “I am enough” on my mirror every morning, my boyfriend asked me: “Can we erase it now? You know you’re enough. You’re more than enough.” and I realized I agreed to that statement! That’s the power of repetition.
For deeper work on body confidence you could also practice self-hypnosis with tracks on Youtube. I used to be skeptical about hypnosis until I went to a session at a time when I felt lost and needed to reconnect with my instincts. Contrary to what we could think, hypnosis doesn’t make you lose consciousness. It’s actually the opposite of that; it makes you enter a state of focused awareness where new possibilities can be considered. So why not see if that works for you?
Body confidence is not something you will achieve by trying to correct all of your “flaws”, going on super restrictive diets and punishing yourself with awful workout sessions and negative self-talk. You improve it by consciously deciding to control your thoughts and listen to your body more. You’ll see it’s easier than it seems and it’s definitely worth it.
Have a wonderful body confidence journey!