How to get body confident and say yes to life more
Did you know that the UK has one of the lowest body positive scores in the world? Only 20% of women like how they look? This comes from the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report that was created using interviews with 10,500 women and girls across 13 countries.
There are so many facts that make me sad in this report but the one which stood out for me, was how low body-esteem causes the 85% of women and 79% girls to opt out of activities and life experiences because they don't feel happy about how they look.
This fact hit home because I have a lot of memories of wanting to say no to things or missing out on activities because of being so self-conscious about my size. I was always on a diet, worrying about my weight, and forever waiting for a future moment when I'd be 'thin enough' to do everything I wanted.
But as it was, I was absolutely petrified of going to anything where I might have to expose my body e.g. like the beach or a birthday pool party. I remember when I was on holiday aged 19, meeting a super cute boy. He invited me and my friend to the beach the next day to hang out with him and his friends. Much as this sounds like a fun thing to do, to me, it was my worse nightmare. Being in a swim suit with a load of strangers - horrors! My friend pretty much had to drag me there. I almost couldn't go because I was so self-conscious. I was sure that if the cute boy saw me in my swimwear, he'd run a mile. (Even though he was Cuban and told me explicitly how much he loved my curves).
Truth is - we only have one life.
That scene in 8 Mile, where Eminem raps about only having one shot? Yeah he's bang on the money. This is not a dress reherseal, bae! It makes me so unbelievably sad to think of the things I almost didn't do because of my low body confidence. And there are likely loads of things I can't even remember saying no to. I remember at one point almost not going travelling because 'I wasn't thin enough' until one day at Uni, a friend had come back from Thailand and was showing me some photos of the new friends he'd made. In one of the photos there was a bigger girl (I write this with total shame but it's how fucked up I was back then about my body). I was so amazed (and in awe) that this girl had the confidence to go travelling because for some reason, there was this ridiculous idea that only thin people went travelling - fucking ridiculous.
Your body is just perfect as it is!
You can do whatever the fuck you want to do. Please don't let life pass you by while you're waiting for a 'perfect body' because it doesn't exist.
Here are my top tips for improving body confidence and saying yes to life more:
1. Build positive self-talk. Catch those negi comments you tell yourself and tell yourself that thoughts aren't facts, often negative comments aren't even our own voice but mean things we've internalised like that comment that mean kid said to you in passing when you were 12 but it's stuck with you. Tell that inner bitch to leave the room. Get out some post-its and write down some self-love statements that remind you just how amazing your body is e.g. my legs are strong, beautiful eyes. (If super positive is too much, just neutral factual statements like 'my body is healthy' work just as well.) The more we can flip our negative talk to positive, the more we begin to believe it. When it comes to saying yes to more activities give yourself a positive pep talk from the perspective of your best friend. What would they say? I only went to the beach that time because my best friend gave me a positive pep talk, and you know what? I had a great time and was so happy she made me go.
2. Move! Research shows that moving your body in a way that makes you feel good, improves how you perceive your body regardless of how much you weigh. Find an exercise you enjoy and put it in the diary so you stick to it, exercise can be literally anything that gets your body moving... dancing, rollerskating, hula hooping (make it fun!). When we move we get stronger both mentally and physically. When we start to see exercise as a way of building feelings of KICK ASS super powers, and not as some punishment or sole way to lose weight, the easier it is to say yes to life.
3. Remind yourself that this is your ONE life. If it's something you'd secretly really like to do but don't know if you can, try and push yourself to go. I know that might sound cray (or even like tough live) but hear me out. In my experience, the majority of the things I really didn't want to do, turned out to be really fun. Things are rarely, if ever, as bad as you imagine. In fact, a good technique is to imagine the worst possible scenario, really blow it up in your mind and make things ridiculously bad. This makes you realise just how easy it is for thoughts go into overdrive creating scenarios for things that are unlikely to ever happen. If you want to go deep down, believe you can have a go. And if it wasn't fun, then you never have to do it again!
4. But, it's ok to say no. If it's something where you really, really don't want to go because the people there don't make you feel good. Then don't go. This is your ONE life remember. It's way too short to spend it with people who make you feel bad about yourself. Start to remove yourself from people who are mean, bitchy or generally bring you down. Surround yourself with people who LOVE you!
5. Celebrate the wins. If you've pushed yourself to do something which was really scary from a confidence perspective - celebrate it! Maybe print out a photo or write it on a post it, or journal about it where you can note down the feelings before and the amazing feelings afterwards. That way when something else scary comes up you can remember that you've already got over one hurdle and you can do it again.
I believe in you!
Let me know if you've overcome some self-esteem body confidence issues to go to something that turned out to be super fun.
Harri Rose x