How do you maintain a positive body image when you're plus size? And if you are able to maintain a positive body image, how will that affect you and your life?
I'm not usually a “woo woo” kind of person. But after my followers tasked me with talking about maintaining a positive body image, I realized that I was definitely using some “woo woo” magic of my own to keep up my confidence and self esteem.
I realized that I formed a negative body image around fifth grade. I was an early bloomer. I got my first period when I was 10 years-old. I had the body of a woman long before the girls I went to school with. That had a big impact on me on my self esteem.
My doctor, my family and other kids had no qualms telling me I was too fat. However, when I look at pictures of myself at that age, I was a frickin’ goddess. If only someone had understood that I wasn’t fat, but instead had a woman’s body -- just not a girl’s body -- I can’t help but wonder how I would have spent the next several decades feeling about myself.
There were other factors that had a big impact on me too, but I really, really struggled with how I felt about myself and my body for most of my life.
I used to do all kinds of crazy stuff to try to change my shape and my size because I hated how big I was. And guess what? I was a size eight at the time. I would give anything to be a size eight today. That’s the irony. Then, I was beautiful and thought I was fat. Today, I’m a plus size and I think I’m killing it every time I walk out of the house. Seriously, like paparazzi should be hanging out on my doorstep, desperate for just one photo of me.
How did that happen? That irony proves that 99.9% of our body image comes from our heads, not our mirrors.
To have a positive body image, to have confidence and a higher self esteem, I changed my perception of the world. Instead of looking at myself with a critical eye, I turned that critical eye on the world.
These are my 10 Be-You-titudes, which are methods I use to feel good about myself and keep the world in perspective.
#1 Your Body Is A Vehicle, Not An Ornament
I read that statement somewhere and it blew my mind. Your body doesn’t exist merely as a decoration. Your body’s purpose is to get you across this globe. Your body's here to lift things, to push things, to work, to have fun, to bear babies.
When I used to work out, all I could think was, how many calories am I burning? Am I getting thinner? I don't think that way anymore, because now I work out to make sure that I can keep moving as I get older, that I can keep lifting things, that I can keep walking up stairs and bending down.
I want my body to be a great vehicle. I want my body to be a Corvette, not a clunker.
#2 Own Your Body Type
Don’t try to hide -- or hide from -- your body type. I’m big-chested and short. I could lose 20 or 30 pounds and, probably, nobody would know because my boobs would still be through a door 10 seconds before my face.
When I was younger, I hid my body under very baggy shirts and jackets. If I had worn clothes that fit, people would have seen the rest of me and that I wasn't shaped like a beach ball.
Now, I wear clothes that actually show how big my chest is, because then they show how small my waist is in comparison. Make the most of your assets; show them off. You’ll draw everyone’s focus -- including your own -- to your best features.
When you try to hide your body, you end up looking worse. That will make you feel worse too. Show it off, girl!
#3 Do Things You’re Good At
Do things that make you feel like you're kicking ass. When you feel like you’re winning, your confidence soars.
For instance, I love to dance. I took dance classes from the time I was five years-old untilI graduated college. So, I take Zumba because all that dance training kicks in. When I take aerobics classes, I feel like I’m so good I should be on TV.
However, I went to say, my daughter’s archery class and tried to shoot some bullseyes, it’s not going to happen. If I tried to shoot a basketball, I'm not going to be so good at that either.
But the things I'm good at? I do them as much as possible because it’s a huge ego boost. Allow yourself that boost. Nobody else is inside your head, so go ahead and tell yourself you’re kicking ass.
#4 Get Self-Righteous
I'm not talking about religion.
Get self-righteous about whatever it is you do that other people should be doingand don’t. You don’t have to say a word out loud, but when you’re self-righteous inside your own head, you feel like you’re just a tiny bit better than that person trying to drag you down.
Maybe you get self-righteous about your excellent ability to save money. Perhaps you get self-righteous about your volunteerism.
Here’s an example. I'm prediabetic. I've had to lose a lot of weight in order to control my blood sugar. One of the ways I keep from eating sugar when I shouldn’t, is I pat myself on the back and say, “This is hard but you’re doing it.They can’t do what you’re doing. You go girl.”
Who’s they? I don’t know. Mean girls? It doesn’t matter. The point is, Iknow I’m better than whoever is giving up and eating that piece of cake. (At least, at that moment I am. And, again, this is all inside my head, so it’s a secret. Shh!)
It’s a bonus when other people say things like, “Oh, you're so good! Wow, you have such willpower!” Those comments fuel my desire to keep my health in check.
#5 Never Forget The Genetic Lottery
Always remember that there is a genetic lottery. Some of us hit the Powerball and some of us don't. Don't be fooled by charlatans who think they’re experts on weight loss.
For instance, after the most recent Super Bowl, a lot of my friends felt bad about themselves after the halftime show with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. They said things like, “Oh, my God! J-Lo is 50 and she looks likethat. What am I doing with myself?”
You cannot compare yourself to anyone else, famous or not, but especially famous folks in Hollywood. Beyond their having a professional chef, gazillions of trainers, assistants, housekeepers, etc.,they won the genetic lottery. Your body is not J-Lo’s body. Your metabolism is not her metabolism.And that’s okay. She’s not playing on the same field you are, so ignore her.
You cannot compare yourself to other people.
#6 Wear What Works For You
Ignore trends. Ignore what “everyone else” is wearing. Wear what makes you feel good when you look in the mirror.
Whether it's bodycon dresses, bikinis, crop tops, men’s clothes, whatever, wear the clothes that give you confidence.
For instance, I would love to wear cute, knee-length, A-line skirts. However, I am too short and they do not look right on me. I end up looking like a Weeble. More than once, I’ve bought a beautiful skirt, hoping against hope I could wear it. Those same skirts ended up in the donation bin. They're so cute, but when I look in the mirror -- ugh.
Instead, I wear tunics and leggings, tight-t-shirts and stretchy jeans. And I look awesome.
#7 Beware Of The Media
Now, this is something that we all know, but somehow, the media still makes us feel like crap. The media sends us horrible messages, negative messages, about the way we look because they want to make money. They're trying to sell clothing, weight loss products, programs, magazines, books, you name it. They play on our insecurities.
What counts as the media? More than just TV commercials. There are also TV shows, movies, magazines, billboards, and -- more than anything else -- social media.
The problem is, sometimes we love the very things that are bad for us. And I’m not talking about donuts. I’m talking about reality shows that create unrealistic weight loss expectations that we can never achieve. YouTubers whose lives seem perfect, while they’re telling us that if we worked harder, we would be just like them. Instagrammers who never seem to have a bad day.
It’s all lies. Stop watching or paying attention to the shows, magazines or YouTubers that make you feel bad about yourself. What’s the point? Seriously, why?
There’s a lot of content out there that will make youfeel good. Are you reading Cosmopolitan, that features skinny actresses on their covers? Or are you readingPlus Model Magazine, whose pages are filled with gorgeous women who look like you? Are you following Khloé Kardashian and her plastic, unattainable life on Instagram? Or are you following The Curvy Fashionista, who keeps it real while serving up killer plus size fashion inspo?
Take a hard look at where your eyeballs are investing their time and then go on a media diet.
#8 Curate Your Tribe
We're all about curating nowadays, right? Why shouldn't that apply to the people around you?
Just like the media affects you, the people around you do too, and that includes family. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, not hold you back.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight for your health and so you can fit into the clothes in your closet. You don’t want to listen to someone who has nothing but “told you so” to say, and comments like, “Your thighs are too big for those pants.” Life's too short for that crap.
You want to surround yourself with people who offer to go on a walk with you or compete in a water-drinking challenge. You need to invest your time in people who feed that positive energy for you.
#9 Decide What’s A Mountain And What’s A Molehill
I agonized about my weight and what I looked like until I had children. For the first couple of years after I had my son, I was still insecure about my body because I was listening to the media, who said I should have lost my baby weight and snapped back into my old body ASAP. I was comparing myself to thinner moms and feeling bad about myself.
Then, something changed. My worries about my children were way, way bigger than worrying about how I looked standing next to my skinny neighbor at our summer block party. I was worried about my kids’ health, their safety, their self esteem, their happiness. What was a dress size compared tothat?
My life became so busy with child-rearing, housekeeping, husband-soothing and my part-time career that I didn't have the time or the brain power to beat myself up about my body anymore. It became a nonissue.
Take a step back when you’re ready and ask yourself, what's truly important in your life? What's truly going to impact your happiness? And what is the rest of it going to get you? If I had paid more attention to how bad I thought I looked, instead of the incredible things that my children were doing, where would I be? What would that say about me?
Decide what’s a mountain and what’s a molehill. You might find that when you put your life’s priorities in the proper perspective, your body image improves.
#10 Tell Yourself A New Story
How we feel about ourselves and our bodies begins with how we were raised, what the people around us said and did.
As I said before, my negative body image formed when I was about 10 years-old. I didn’t grow up with positive messages about my body, or even my whole self.
However, at some point, you have to realize that your negative body image or low self esteem isn’t their fault anymore. It's your fault if you let that thinking continue. That’s when you need to tell yourself a new story.
Trust me, I know what it’s like to try to break the chains that people from your childhood wrapped around you. I'm still fighting a lot of that damage to this day.
When I find myself trapped in a loop of negative thinking, and I can hear the voices from the past beating me up, I stop myself and think, “Tell yourself a new story.” My new story is that I'm awesome. That I have an incredible husband who loves me and thinks I'm crazy-hot. That I have beautiful children. That those people don't own me anymore.
Tell yourself a new story.
Find Your Positive Body Image
I hope some of these strategies help you feel good about yourself and your body.
Building up our self esteem and creating a positive body image gives us so much strength to lead our lives in impactful ways. When you feel good about yourself, you feel powerful. That power can change your world.
I see you. And you’re beautiful.
Written by: Nancy Basile, Plus Size Nerd
And if you are more of a video person why not check her video with tips on how to have a positive body image and love yourself?