Guest post by Rebelle Haze, a Sex Positive Sex Educator and owner of Rebelle-ution.com.
'It is my mission to help people become a lot more relaxed when talking about sex and sexuality. I am a fierce, fat, feminist with a wicked sense of humour and a taste for tattoos. I am a positive body image activist and an adoring pet owner'.
Ah January, the month where body shaming is at one of it’s highest peaks. The new year brings on a barrage of messages that you are simply not good enough and you must change to accommodate this new year. Food corporations are pedalling their new low calorie, chemically laden treat, the diet industry takes out waves of ad space in the media and people who have lost weight during the holiday period are held up as demi-gods/ goddesses.
In a world where being in love with your body takes a whole lot of work as it is January can be one of your greatest tests. It’s almost expected that you will become a brand new human being. This January, instead of becoming a whole new you, why not work on loving the you, that you are. You can start moving forward and building a more positive body image by starting small. So, today, I wanted to share with you some simple steps you can take to start building a healthier body image. They are like resolutions but much less painful and we won’t make you feel bad about yourself!
1. Don’t buy magazines that make you feel bad about yourself.
You know the ones. The ones with headlines that scream “OMG Kim Kardashian has a MASSIVE arse, Find out How Someone else lost 2stone in a half an hour!” I think this is such an important step, because for so many of us, the media has a big impact on how we see ourselves. Not only that but it also helps shape what we think is beautiful (and healthy). If you find yourself walking over to the magazine rack, look for a new favorite that has nothing to do with food, fitness or health. Maybe your hobby has a magazine (e.g., scrap-booking, knitting, writing) or you enjoy decorating magazines. Try to find publications that enrich your life in some way, instead of ones that boost bad feelings about your body and yourself.
2. Acknowledge your negative thoughts and change them.
It can be really difficult to build a better body image when you’ve got a barrage of negative thoughts swirling around your head. Remember that a) you aren’t your thoughts and b) thoughts can be like bad habits. It’s like saying “I’m fat” is the first thing that pops into our heads because we’re used to it. It’s become our go-to phrase. But we can work on changing that. So take one negative thought and try to make it into a positive one. Even if you don’t believe it at first, it’s a good start. Best part is eventually you will start to believe the things you say to yourself.
3. Think about one thing that has contributed to your negative body image.
There’s always something behind our body image (like there is with a food obsession). Take a few minutes to think about what has influenced your body image. How could you work to improve that? What can you do to fix this factor or to let it go?
4. Right now think of one reason you’re grateful for your body.
What can you do? What can you wear? What does it do for you? Come up with reasons why you love your beautiful body.
5. Are you hungry? Listen to your body, and if it’s hungry, respond.
By feeding your body when it’s hungry, you’re reconnecting with it. Having a healthy body image doesn’t just mean appreciating your body for its amazing abilities (though that’s great, too!), it also means listening to it and taking care of it. All too often we're too busy to eat or turn to food as a source of comfort. Take time out to really get in tune with your body, you will feel much better for it.
6. Surround yourself with positive words and images.
Put up pictures that make you happy and quotes that inspire you. Fill your world with a mass of positivity and limit the amount of negative nonsense you are exposed to. You will feel much better and your body will respond in kind.
7. Read your favorite body positive blog post, something that really inspires you and makes you feel better.
Or take a few minutes to find a favorite among the blogs you like. If you haven’t read any before do a search for them or if you’re feeling really inspired write one of your own!
8. Do one thing that makes you happy.
Our mood can greatly affect our body image. If we’re upset or anxious, we rarely feel comfortable in our own skin. So lifting your spirits can help a lot. Meet a friend, read a book, take the dog for a walk, do whatever it is that brings you joy.
9. Think of one way you can cope without body bashing.
For many of us, when stress hits, our self-criticism soars. I used to blame myself and my body for everything. Come up with some strategies that protect you from the negative voices in your head.
10. Do something that makes you feel strong.
I’m no athlete, but I love to swim. For me there is no greater feeling than working my body in the water. It boosts my mood and fills me with energy. Find at least one physical activity that makes you feel great, active and fulfilled. It can be anything from walking to running outside to dancing to hiking to team sports.
Keep your head up and don’t let the body bashing get you. January’s body bashing only lasts a short while but a positive body image can keep you stronger for much longer.