When we’ve grown up with the pressure to look a certain way, whether that's a certain body size, shape, curve, or color – the list goes on – learning to love our bodies is not an easy task, and it's definitely not as easy at the #bodypositivity movement can sometimes make it seem.
It takes time to undo the years of social conditioning and to remove the shame that we carry within us. Going from “I hate my body” to something more positive takes time and conscious effort. In our societies, however, this is a revolutionary and necessary act.
There is so much you can do to start to heal that relationship. Here, we've gathered some of our favorite, small practices that help us show our bodies more respect.
1. Start your day with self-gratitude.
Every morning, when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself.
2. Speak to yourself the way you would to your best friend.
Imagine you heard your girlfriend speaking about herself the way you sometimes do to your body. What would you say to her? Now try to practice speaking to yourself with that kind of love and compassion. Instead of thoughts that bring you down, stop and replace them with positive or respectful statements.
3. Compliment your body.
Create a list of all the things your body does for you and express your gratitude. Add to this list every day and read it to yourself often.
4. Try some mirror work.
Take a moment each morning to look at your full body in the mirror and say something kind about it. You can also pick parts of your body that you don't like and focus on them. For example, if you hate your hips, you might try saying out loud, "I love my wide hips," or, "My hips are sensual and sexy."
5. Do something that makes your body feel good every day.
Make it a habit to shower your body with love, whether that’s giving yourself a quick foot massage every night, a warm shower, or a little dance in the morning. A small gesture can go a long way.
6. Honor your hunger and fullness.
Listen to your body: when it’s hungry, feed it. Ignoring this cue will only make you over-eat later. Savor and enjoy the taste of your food, which allows you to fuel your body. Pause in the middle of your meal to check in with your level of fullness. When you start to feel full, give your body the gift of stopping before you're uncomfortable.
7. Curate and clean out your social media.
Stop following accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and instead follow accounts that show bodies that look like yours. Curating your media consumption has a huge impact on your psyche and your perception of what a beautiful body looks like.
8. Let go of forcing yourself to love every part of you.
Otherwise, if you're not able to achieve that, it'll be another reason you put yourself down. Don't pile on the shame. Instead, find things that you like about yourself, focus on them, and show them some love and respect.
Crespo, R. (n.d.). 17 Ways to Respect Yourself (And Why It’s Important). Minimalism Made Simple. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.minimalismmadesimple.com/home/respect-yourself/.
Gonsalves, K. (2015, March 11). How To Love Your Body: 20 Small Ways To Start, Even When It’s Hard. mindbodygreen. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17640/10-things-to-stop-doing-if-you-want-to-love-your-body.html.
Gundersen Health System. (2019, September 4). 10 ways to respect your body. Gundersen Health System. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.gundersenhealth.org/health-wellness/eat/10-ways-to-respect-your-body/.