how to love your body (habits + experiments)

Some thoughts, plans, and action items to start reorganizing your life around a vision of yourself as adequate, after all.

Fake it. What would I do if I loved myself? What would I do if I loved my body? What would I do if I were a confident person? I’d stop berating myself as if feeling guilty was itself a virtue. I’d eat one Oreo instead of eight. I’d laugh out loud and wear that dress I secretly love that isn’t in style. Act like the person you want to be – it will get easier and easier until one day, you are that person.

Exercise. Just do something. I used to think I hated all forms of exercise, but I never really tried it for long enough to know I hated it. What I really hated was being sweaty and feeling like a failure. But what I needed to do was just to try something. Showing up is success. You don’t have to take up muay thai boxing to impress a boy (like I did); just get some exercise. And if you hate hate hate running, don’t do it! Find something you enjoy and prioritize that. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of other people – it’s self-defeating to cut out exercise when things get busy. Take care of your body; appreciate what it can do for you; watch it start to change and realize that it’s a miracle.

Focus on your favorite parts of yourself. Dress to show them off.

Learn to take a compliment. I dare you: next time someone says they like your eyes, don’t make them feel embarrassed by making it clear that you’re embarrassed. You have nice eyes! You’re allowed to say, “Thank you. I like them too!”

Fill up your body and your space. Maybe you saw this video go around a few months back. It’s pretty eye-opening if you’ve never noticed before. I see it happen on the train: men tend to sprawl around, legs open, elbows in other people’s laps, while women shrink and shrink and shrink.
Are men terrible human beings with no regard for others’ space? Maybe some of the time. But they’re also just generally not afraid to be the size they are. Whatever size you are, fill up your body. Be all in that space, no apologies. Try this: take the slowest, deepest breath you can. Fill up your lungs from bottom to top until they can’t hold anymore (hint: this requires your belly to get bigger). Breathe all the way into your toes. Throw your shoulders back. Stretch your arms across the back of the chair next to you. No one is begrudging you the right to have mass and volume.

be thankful. Say “thank you for this body” until you actually mean it.

dirty. making weird faces.

dirty. making weird faces. having more fun.

Dance. get dirty. get wet. get ugly. Live your life, looking silly, and if other people are worried about whether you look silly, you’re having way, way more fun than them.

Be naked. No clothes or no makeup. Get used to your “natural look”. The no-makeup thing was really hard for me, but I’ve re-learned how to be OK with looking in the mirror and saying, “hey, that’s me,” instead of diving for my mascara.

Stop your thoughts. “Does he like my hair? Why didn’t someone tell me to stand up straighter in that picture? Would he have flirted back if I were wearing lipstick?” Learn to recognize thoughts that focus on things you don’t really value, or want to value. Focus on whether your charm or intelligence is shining, not whether your hair is. Think about the fun memory the photo represents – do you really wish you could go back to change that moment? When it’s not time to be superficial, let the superficial thoughts pass you by.

Kill the ads. Maybe you can’t escape them, but you can talk back. Go on the offensive when it comes to your own brain space. Someone else is trying to take it from you.

Get over yourself. We all need to do some work to learn to live with ourselves, but you can only achieve so much introspection and self-awareness before wandering into self-obsession. And for some of us, a lot of this is just as much about our own pride as it is about society or whatever. Let go of fear about your looks. No one else even notices all the imperfections that glare back at you in the mirror. Take the risk of loving yourself so you can get on with loving other people. Tell your friends how beautiful you see them, and dare to believe that they see you that way, too.

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