Body confidence is tough. We live in a world that, unfortunately, tells us repeatedly that our bodies aren't good enough – that in order to be accepted by society, we need washboard abs, perky bums, defined jawlines and cellulite-free thighs. So instead of celebrating what god gave us, we waste time, energy and money trying to fix our perceived flaws – diet after diet, countless hours spent in the gym, and maybe even surgical procedures.
We all know that diets don't work, and it's very physically mentally and challenging, along with time-consuming, to change your body in the gym, so what are we left with? Disappointment. Feelings of failure. Feeling that we're just not good enough.
WHICH IS CRAZY! Diet culture and these toxic societal pressures are born out of a marketing ploy – brands and companies profit from us feeling inadequate… The pressures are not real. Why do we need to have washboard abs? But seriously, why? We don't, is the answer.
Instead, we need to focus on our values and morals, how we treat people, how we treat ourselves and our achievements. And, crucially, self-acceptance – self-acceptance is the best gift you can give yourself, I promise you. Feeling comfortable in your own skin is liberating and life-transforming. But I get that it's tough, and you're probably reading this and thinking, 'Well, this is all well and good but HOW do I get to a good place with my body?".
So I've made a list. A comprehensive list with actionable steps you can take to improve your body image and start accepting your body as it is:
1. Stop looking at other bodies and comparing them to yours
This is a pointless exercise. You have different DNA to everyone single person on this planet, as well as a different environment. You are never going to look like anyone else, so stop the comparison.
2. Recognise that what we see in the media has most likely been edited
I can't stress this enough – literally almost every image you see has been retouched or filtered. Meaning that the girl in the photo doesn't even look like the girl in the photo – more reason to stop comparison.
3. Identify what you like about your body
Keep those things front and centre of your mind. Focus on the positive, not the negative. Also focus on your good points that doesn't involve your looks.
4. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself
And if anyone has concerns with how you look, they're not worthy of being in your life.
5. Focus on your qualities, values and accomplishments
These are the things that really matter, that people will remember and respect you for. Are you a good person? Great. That's all you need.
Photo taken by Zoe McConell for Isle of Paradise #OwnYourGlow campaign
6. Curate and diversify your instagram feed
Firstly, unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad, or makes you feel like you have to be someone else. Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings – your mental health is more important. Then, go about following a diverse range of different people – the more different types of bodies you start to see, the better you will feel about yourself.
7. Accept who you are right now
Stop focusing on what you could be. It's time-consuming and massively affects your self-esteem. Realise that you are good enough exactly as you and try to put any negativity about yourself to one side.
8. Write a list of what makes you happy
What makes you feel good about yourself? What makes you feel happy? Come up with a list and do them as often as you can.
Above all, please remember this quote:
"Nobody is going to stand up at your funeral and say: 'She had a small waist and a great thigh gap'."