Summertime always leaves me with mixed emotions. I do love warmer weather but the idea of showing more skin and the dreaded chub rub that accompanies summer was something that really held me back in the past.
Over the last 2 years however, I've begun to build my own body confidence slowly and steadily. I'm still the same size as i've always been (size 20) but something has changed within me.
I'm not avoiding mirrors anymore, or wearing shapeless clothes to hide my body. I can now happily go in the pool at summertime and not worry about what other's think of my body. I also used to hate eating in public, thinking everyone was judging me - but now i'll order that piece of cake with my coffee without a care.
If you can relate to any of those feelings, you're probably thinking... well how did you do it Danielle?
So here are my tips for building body confidence for summer and all year long.
1. Become aware of your inner voice
I never realised I had a critical inner voice that was holding me back until recently. Your inner voice is the inner feedback you tell yourself when you're just sat thinking, or when you're trying clothes on and look in the mirror.
My inner voice would say things like:
"you're too fat for that"
"you look gross"
"people will stare at you"
"your arms look huge"
This inner voice has been conditioned by a lifetime of fat shaming and diet culture, so it's not going to be very friendly about your body.
My first step was acknowledging that I was have negative thoughts. So the inner voice would say, "you're too fat for that" and I would respond to myself within and say "yes you're in a size 20 body, but that doesn't hold you back".
I also noticed how many times a day I thought negative thoughts and counted it. One day I counted over 150 negative thoughts about my body. That's a huge amount of criticism to deal with on a daily basis and it's no wonder I didn't feel body confident!
2. Practice body neutrality
I can pretty much guarantee you're not going to go from "I hate my body" to "I'm a self love body confident QUEEN" in 5 minutes. If you could, you wouldn't be reading my post right now.
Getting to body confidence takes time and constant practice. It's a process of being kind to yourself and not letting negative thoughts consume you.
I didn't feel authentic looking in the mirror and repeating mantras of 'I love my body, i love my body' and it just made me feel worse.
So what I did instead was practice body neutrality.
Unlike 'body love' - body neutrality means appreciating your body for what it can do and focusing on that, rather than what it looks like.
This sounds like:
"I'm grateful for my arms today, because they let me hug my loved ones"
"I'm grateful for my eyes, because after my brain tumor - I could have lost all my vision. So I may have a squint in one eye - but I can see with the other."
"I'm grateful for my legs because they give me freedom to move and explore"
Notice how I start every thought with the words "i'm grateful for"?
That's because practising gratitude and acknowledging our blessings helps us to feel more centred and calm, as well as appreciating what we do have.
3. Join a plus size community.
It was through the plus size community I found on Insyze that I really began to feel body confident. Seeing women like me, in my size posting what they're wearing, posting their style tips and seeing how amazing they look really inspired me and helped me to feel better about myself.
I think it's really important to surround yourself with positive influences and uplifting people. You may not have them around you in real life, but you can find them online too.
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