Feeling confident in your body might seem impossible right now. But we promise: Any person in any body can achieve it. People just tend to go about getting rid of their insecurities in unhelpful ways. Focusing only on parts of your body that you like, for example, might not work. If you like your arms because they’re small, what happens if one day you wake up and wish they looked smaller?
The key is in accepting all bodies at any size. Body insecurity is really just what happens when you’re afraid of fat. Think about it — if gaining weight was okay, if fat was okay, if not having the “perfect” body was okay, there would be no insecurity. There would be no reason to feel self-conscious about your body at all. The only reason our perceived flaws matter is because we think they are reflective of a greater problem.
If I don’t have a flat stomach, people will think I don’t work out enough. If I can’t fit into a size whatever, people won’t like me.
Sound familiar? Body size, on the surface, is just that. Body size. It’s only once we tack on all these other judgments that it becomes an issue.
Of course, we live in a culture where all kinds of judgments and negativity are thrown on people in larger bodies. This phenomenon, called weight stigma, is everywhere and is inherently harmful. Studies have shown that weight stigma can decrease the quality of healthcare for people in larger bodies. It also can have a negative effect on people’s health, resulting in medical and psychological consequences.
Weight stigma is a huge part of the reason why simple interventions to try to improve people’s body image don’t work. Tacking a Post-it Note reading “you’re beautiful” on the mirror might help some people to feel a little better in the moment, but it doesn’t exactly help to counteract the fat-shaming messages we’ve been receiving since birth. And since people exist in all types of bodies — fat, thin, tall, short — certain body types are put down no matter what.
With this limitation in mind, we consulted the advice columns of body positive activists, health experts, and professional health coaches to put together this list of helpful interventions to improve your body image. Hopefully, over time, these steps can help you to stop feeling insecure in your body once and for all.