The body positivity movement has gained some serious steam over the past decade. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, body dissatisfaction for American women (and men) began to decline in the early 2000s, following an unfortunate peak in the 1990s.
Body positivity refers to an acceptance and love of all body types, including your own, and we’re glad to see it catching on. In light of this shift, many fashion brands are beginning to feature more diversity and body inclusivity in their advertisements and among their models. This is a significant step toward cracking the concept of an ideal body type, but there’s still quite a way to go.
Try these five valuable steps to further embrace body positivity.
1. Take a compliment.
Accepting compliments with grace is an almost universal challenge! Too often, we answer compliments with “Thank you, but…” When you receive compliments, it’s okay to simply say thank you without providing an excuse or explanation. When you learn to accept compliments by saying thank you (and just thank you!), you’ll start to believe them.
2. Have a fitness goal that has nothing to do with appearance.
Forget the scale and the measuring tape. Fitness is a great way to feel strong and powerful, but if your focus is only on burning calories, you’re more likely to resent it as an activity. Rather than linking exercise solely with physical appearance, have fun by challenging yourself to squat your highest weight, run your fastest mile, or bike your longest distance. Seeing your body accomplish these incredible things will make you truly proud.
3. Stop comparing.
Accept differences in people and just focus on your own healthy path. Know that we all have different strengths and limitations. Focus on your assets and your potential by using positive affirmations and setting realistic goals. Celebrate wins, however small, and remember that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes; body positivity is inclusive of everyone, and there is absolutely no wrong way to have a body!
4. Use social media wisely.
What we expose ourselves to online, in magazines, and on TV has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. Consider avoiding shows and social media accounts that feature limited diversity. Be particular about the magazines, websites, and social media pages you view and the messages they may be subtly (or not so subtly) sending you.
5. Embrace your “flaws.”
Being body positive is not just about weight. It’s about accepting all aspects of your body, from body hair to acne to cellulite, no matter what society deems acceptable or beautiful. Your “flaws” make you who you are, so embrace them! Body positivity means recognizing that all bodies (yours included!) are worthy of acceptance and praise, and that all bodies are of equal value and beautiful in their own right.