A lot of women were really upset when Cheryl Tiegs, former supermodel and fashion designer, made headlines in February 2016 when she tried to fat-shame plus-size model Ashley Graham. Ashley was selected to appear on the front page of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Yaaaas! Instead of taking an opportunity to support another model, Cheryl decided to say something ugly (which I won't honor by repeating), and apologized only after she got a lot of backlash. You can do better, Cheryl.
Why is it that with all the other things we could focus on, some of us are still so comfortable sitting in judgment of what each other's bodies are 'supposed' to look like? Really? Who are we to judge each other? This kind of comparison and judgment encourages women to chase after the perfect body. And this ridiculous pursuit of the mythical perfect body affects generations of women and their self esteem.
Forget that! How you look impacts how confident you feel. And how confident you feel affects how powerful you are. How can you go to work and be your totally bad-ass self when you're worried that your earlobes are too big? Or your breasts too small? It is no wonder that so many women, at younger and younger ages, are getting caught up in having the perfect body.
You can fight back against this emphasis on a perfect body and reclaim your body confidence. Here are several steps you can take (ok, 7 steps) to quickly increase your body confidence.
7 Powerful Steps to Quickly Increase Body Confidence:
Quit saying negative things about your body
Your brain processes the words you use when you talk about yourself without considering whether they are true or false. It acts as if all your thoughts are true. How sobering is that? Is it any wonder some of our thoughts create negativity in our lives? For example, if you keep telling yourself that you are fat and that nobody will find you attractive, chances are that your life will seem to bear that out. You may very well be attractive, but your negative attitude towards yourself is making you unattractive to others. Think back, have you ever been attracted to someone who wasn't 'traditionally' attractive? It can happen! Be careful not to think negative things about your body or get into a body bashing session with your friends.
Love yourself and accept your body
When you truly love yourself and accept your body, you will then be open to let others love you too. Our bodies are amazing! They protect us and house our incredible brains and hold all our secrets. Instead of wishing your body was different, remember how lucky you are to have a body that allows you to walk around, ride a bicycle, or dance. There are other people, who cannot do the same things that you can with your body. Each of us is uniquely gifted and our bodies are perfect for us.
Stop comparing yourself to anybody
The shortest distance between misery and happiness is the line of comparison. One of the fastest ways to kill your body confidence is to compare your body to others. Please stop doing this! Some women have long legs and narrow hips. Others are shorter and curvier. So? It would be incredibly boring if we all looked identical. And no matter what you look like, I bet you could easily find 5 women who wish they had that feature that you are talking smack about.
Celebrate the body parts you like
Focus on your favorite parts of your body. Do you have gorgeous feet? Long lashes? Biceps that are strong and muscular? Awesome. Don't hide your favorite body parts, celebrate them. I remember a lot of 'conversation' when former First Lady Michelle Obama wore sleeveless outfits. I was not mad! I was happy to see her loving her arms. Figure out ways to accentuate your favorite body parts. Wear sandals, use mascara, and go sleeveless.
Remember that thin doesn't mean healthy
If you are a more 'abundant' woman who goes to the gym, there is a good chance that you are healthier than your thin neighbor who is a couch potato. Thin doesn't automatically equal healthy. While issues of low body confidence often plague larger women, there are plenty of women who lack confidence because they are very thin. There are fit women of all sizes and the goal should be to be healthy, not to be thin.
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend
How do you respond when a close friend doubts herself? You're warm and encouraging and you easily find examples of why they are rock stars, right? Give yourself the same love and support you would give your friend. Instead of knocking yourself for any body feature or perceived flaw, remind yourself of how good you look in pink or how grateful you are to be healthy enough to do all the things you want to do. Friends have the magical ability to completely ignore things we don't like about ourselves. Treat yourself like your best friend.
Do something physical
Doing something physical reminds you of the magical machine that you are. Stretching can relieve stress and make you feel more body confident. Try something new that you've always wanted to do like yoga or fishing and you'll appreciate how your body adapts to this new activity. And the more you do it, the better you will get. Exercise has the added bonus of releasing the "feel-good" chemicals (endorphins) in your brain that will improve your mood.
Increasing your body confidence is an important step in increasing your overall confidence. It doesn't require a major change, small incremental steps can have a big impact on how comfortable you feel in your skin. These 7 steps are all do-able and really powerful for changing your inner conversation about your appearance and showing up more powerfully. If you want to talk with a coach to work on being more confident at work, I'd love to chat with you.