No matter who you are, chances are you have felt like you are too little or too much of something: too fat, too thin, too flat, too curvy, too feminine, too masculine. You know the feeling.
So how do we push back? How do we cultivate body positivity for ourselves and others?
1. No Negative Talk
Stop thinking mean thoughts about yourself. If it’s something you wouldn’t say to your best friend’s face or vice versa, then you shouldn’t allow yourself to think it about yourself. Try to have positive, encouraging thoughts. When you look in the mirror or see a photo of yourself, try to find one thing you like instead of focusing on the negative. This small change can have a considerable impact on how you view yourself.
Beyond your thoughts, do not use body comments as a form of social interaction. You have more important topics to discuss and many other ways to bond. Don’t allow your friends or family to hurt each other with destructive talk.
2. Ditch Social Media Influencers
Whether it’s celebrities, fitness influencers, or friends that love photoshop and #humblebragging just a little too much, seeing distorted and airbrushed “reality” doesn’t help your self-confidence.
Even if you can’t unfollow everyone like this, remind yourself frequently that it’s not real. They are getting paid to sell you on the illusion. Maintain a healthy perspective. No one is perfect. Avoid skinny tea ads at all costs.
3. Don’t Let A Number Define You
Clothing sizes and BMI are arbitrary measurements that should not dictate your self-worth. Don’t fixate on fitting into a specific size or weight. If you’re focused strictly on numbers, you may idealize someone who stays trim thanks to unhealthy calorie restriction, caffeine, and smoking a pack a day. At the same time, someone with a higher BMI may be running marathons regularly. A balanced diet and routine exercise will impact the health and length of your life more than the size of your jeans.
4. Exercise For You
Working out shouldn’t be a punishment for what you eat. Food should not be your reward. If you are suffering through workouts, it might be time to find a different routine.
Thinking of working out as something you do as a favor to yourself. Move because you want to and check-in with yourself regularly. If something doesn’t feel good, switch it up. Exercise should feel challenging and strengthening, but not overwhelming. Depending on the kind of day you have had, what worked yesterday may not be the thing you need today.
If you’re looking for a new setting to put the joy back in your workouts, take time to get familiar with staff or instructors. Make sure that they are supportive and energizing. Taking a friend can help you feel safe and less vulnerable in a new setting.
5. Find Clothing That Makes You Feel Confident
Clothing has the power to make or break your confidence. You may be holding on to clothes from your past, making you set unrealistic goals for your body. Ditch them. You will look and feel more confident by getting a proper fitting or sizing up when necessary.
Workout gear can feel restrictive, unflattering, and uncomfortable. It’s not empowering when companies don’t make it with every body type in mind. If your body doesn’t fit the mold of sample sizes, you can feel less motivated and self-conscious working out. Seek out inclusive brands that make clothing for all shapes and sizes. Find clothes that make you feel strong and proud to be who you are.
6. Remember You Have A Right
Fitness spaces are not always designed with everybody in mind, which can be very offputting. No matter your shape, color, or identity, you have a right to take up space and get strong. Don’t let anyone or thing get in the way of your fitness journey. You are allowed to be there. If you feel unwelcome, you should look for more inclusive spaces.
7. Find Body-Positive Fitness Spaces
Walking into a gym, you can immediately feel the assumptions of others. From the elevator eyes and stares you’re getting to the outright judgment from fitness instructors and other gym-goers offering tips to lose weight or bulk up. If you can find a body-positive space, you can experience how fun it can be with the added benefit of moving your body.
At PoleActive.com, we love pole dancing because of its high emphasis on body positivity. Pole dancing fitness studios are relatively new, gaining popularity since the early 2000s. Because of this, they don’t have a deep-rooted prejudice about how a dancer’s body should look. They are a modern fitness phenomenon founded on inclusion culture. You aren’t “too” anything! If you have a body, you have a dance body. It doesn’t define your fitness or pole dancing journey.
In the end, body positivity isn’t an easy journey. Your aim is strength and health. Make sure you’re getting fit for the right reasons. Shut out the distractions in the world around you, and make this one about you!