Every Body is Summer Ready: 9 tips to Embrace Body Positivity Today and Every Day

We admire art and aesthetics in nature, so why do we let the so-called beauty standards shun our self-esteem unless we conform to them?

We are more than just the size of our bodies. Each one of us is a canvas carved artistically to engrave the essence of an individualized body. If we see ourselves beyond the size and proportion of our bodies, we will be amazed by the patterns and fractals that depict the microcosmic nature of human beings. The differentiation in fingertips reminds us of the scars in the bark of trees caused by different biological, natural, and chemical injuries and traumas faced by it. Even the misperceived flaws are beautification because of our journey, like our unique streaked stretchmarks look like foliates in rocks, representing the durability and strength of our skin despite the evolution of our body. Human eyes are a galaxy of their own. Our beautiful features represent our ancestorial linkage to us, even when we have physically left our homeland. There are many differences in our looks, but the proportionality and aesthetics conform to the golden ratio observed throughout the universe. We are so much more than the ever-changing beauty standards of society. We are enough.

Embracing the differences in our body types is indeed crucial for protecting mental health. Here are some key points on how this can positively impact our well-being:

  1. Body Acceptance

Embracing diverse body types involves accepting and appreciating our own bodies as well as the bodies of others. It means recognizing that there is no single “ideal” body shape or size. By cultivating body acceptance, we can foster a positive body image and reduce self-criticism or negative comparisons that can harm our mental health.

  1. Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Embracing body diversity helps to nurture a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth. When we recognize that our value as individuals extends far beyond our physical appearance, we can focus on our unique qualities, talents, and accomplishments, leading to a more positive self-perception and overall mental well-being.

  1. Challenging Societal Standards

Society often perpetuates narrow beauty standards that can lead to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Embracing different body types involves challenging these unrealistic and harmful ideals. By promoting a more inclusive and diverse representation of bodies in the media, fashion, and other influential platforms, we can create an environment that fosters acceptance, self-love, and mental health for all.

  1. Building Resilience

Embracing the differences in our body types can contribute to building resilience and inner strength. It involves developing a positive and resilient mindset, recognizing that our worth and happiness are not dependent on meeting external expectations. This resilience allows us to navigate societal pressures and overcome negative self-talk, contributing to improved mental well-being.

  1. Cultivating Empathy and Compassion

Embracing body diversity encourages empathy and compassion towards ourselves and others. Recognizing that everyone’s body is unique and deserving of respect fosters a more inclusive and supportive mindset. This not only benefits our own mental health but also contributes to creating a kinder and more understanding society that values diverse bodies.

  1. Holistic Well-being

Embracing body diversity is part of a broader commitment to holistic well-being. It encourages us to prioritize self-care practices that nourish our bodies and minds, such as engaging in regular physical activity, consuming a balanced diet, practicing mindfulness, and developing positive coping strategies. By focusing on overall well-being rather than solely on physical appearance, we can protect and enhance our mental health.

Our Relationship with our Body

The relationship one has with their body can be influenced by various factors, including societal norms, media influences, personal experiences, cultural beliefs, and individual personality traits. Unfortunately, societal forces magnify an individual’s negative self-image. As a result, people suffer from low self-image, lack of body acceptability, and body appreciation.

Body Perception Throughout Different Seasons

Seasonal fluctuations in body confidence and comfort are universal; researchers have confirmed a higher level of body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem in summer. (Griffiths et al., 2021). As the temperature rise, the prospect of exposing more skin leads to body insecurities and a decrease in confidence, especially in females. Simple, fun activities like swimming and going to the beach, have become triggering because of societal pressure to have a “perfect” summer body.

These unattainable societal pressures are driven by the following factors:

  • Media Influence

Through social media, commercials, or programs, media advertises the trending body type; models with that specific type are then chosen. Celebrities who fit the idealized summer body image are often showcased as aspirational and desirable, creating a culture of admiration and emulation’ even though many may disguise their natural body type through Photoshop, crash diets, and editing skills. The media broadcasts headlines like ‘shredding for summer,’ with various weight loss plans and fitness influencers introducing newfound challenges in summer to achieve the so-called “bikini beach body”, further impacting the self-image of the vast majority of society (Gillan, 2020). Unfortunately, tabloids, magazines, and gossip columns scrutinize and criticize the body types of celebrities, further perpetuating the internalized messaging that different body types will be judged, ridiculed, and excluded by society. (Huang, Peng, & Ahn, 2020).

  • Comparisons

Appearance comparisons to others who appear to have the “ideal” body negatively impact self-esteem. People may also compare you to other relatives or age mates. These comparisons create feelings of inferiority, jealousy, and a sense of failure when trying to assimilate to unrealistic standards. Social networking connects us to a larger audience; in summer, people share more pictures of holidays, or beach body pictures, due to which people consciously and unconsciously find themselves comparing their body type with others. (Fardouly et al., 2017).

Embracing Body Positivity

Body image is not just about our weight or clothing size, it is affected by various factors. Our perception of our body is not always accurate. A lot of times, our perception is distorted. Regardless of how much weight we lose or gain, we may perceive ourselves as ugly or flawed. This may be due to family/societal pressures and expectations, past traumas, lack of control in life, etc.

Our self-perception directly impacts the effect, that is, how we feel about the body. If our perception magnifies flaws, we may feel ugly, unloved, or unaccepted. This may lead to self-criticism and preoccupation with negative thoughts about our body. As a result, our behavior toward our body may become negative too. We may become fixated on crash diets, starvation, over-exercising, purging, overdosing on laxatives, constantly measuring our weight, and punishing ourselves when we are unable to adhere to the unrealistic and unsustainable conditions we place on ourselves. Embracing positivity and acceptance towards the body cannot be achieved in isolation. It demands a change in self-perception, behavior, thought process, and healing of the traumas that cultural and societal expectation may cause.

To start practicing body positivity and building self-confidence, here are some tips and guidance:

  1. Engage in Positive Self-Talk

Replace negative thoughts about your body with positive affirmations. For example, instead of criticizing your appearance, focus on qualities you appreciate about yourself, such as your kindness, intelligence, or sense of humor. (Shield, 2019). You may put self-appreciating sticky notes in your dressing room to remind yourself of your positive qualities while you are getting ready as it is going somewhere, or dressing up may be triggering.

  • Surround Yourself with Body-Positive Media

Follow social media accounts that promote body positivity, diversity, and self-acceptance. Unfollow or mute accounts that perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards or make you feel inadequate. You may listen to podcasts of influencers who emphasize body positivity, including Jameela Jameel podcast, IWEIGH.

  • Challenge Beauty Ideals and Body Comparisons

Recognize that beauty standards are subjective and constantly changing. Avoid comparing yourself to others; remember that your worth goes beyond your physical appearance. Focus on cultivating self-acceptance and embracing your unique qualities. Change starts with you; even if the world confines everyone to questionable standards, you can challenge them by observing the beauty in everyone and appreciate people regardless of their body type and beauty standards.

  • Practice Gratitude for Your Body

Each day, take a moment to appreciate your body and all that it does for you. Focus on its abilities and functions rather than solely its appearance. Express gratitude for your strength, mobility, senses, and the experiences your body allows you to have. (Shield, 2019). One way to do it is by thanking your body part while staring at the dressing room mirror; you may even remind yourself about all that this body has helped you achieve, whether it is the use of your hands to eat something or carry something, the leg strength that has allowed you to walk to places.

  • Engage in Activities That Make You Feel Good

Engaging in activities you enjoy can boost your mood and help you connect with your body in a positive way. Participate in activities that bring you joy, whether dancing, painting, hiking, or practicing yoga. (Shield, 2019). If you feel uninterested, you can take part in sensory activities that stimulate your mind and body, such as walking on the grass or sand or playing with clay dough.

  • Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Spend time with individuals who appreciate you for who you are and support your journey towards self-acceptance. Engage in conversations that uplift and empower each other. (Shield, 2019). Remember that you do not deserve to surround yourself with people who cannot see your worth, make you feel drained out, and question your beauty and the gift you offer to the world.

  • Practice Self-Care

Prioritize self-care activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This could include bathing, practicing mindfulness or meditation, getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, and engaging in regular physical activity. Schedule weekly self-care activities every month; you may even keep a jar of notes containing random self-care activities, and every time you feel low, you may randomly read out a paper and practice what is written in it. At the end of the week or after a stressful day, you can reward yourself with a self-care day, whether a long shower or taking yourself to your favorite restaurant. Mindfulness activities may also ground you to present your physical environment rather than your negative thoughts and perception about your body.

  • Educate Yourself on Body Positivity and Body Acceptance

Read books, articles, and research on body positivity to better understand the movement and its principles. This knowledge can help reinforce positive attitudes toward your own body and challenge societal beauty norms. Teach yourself about body changes, hormonal changes, and the effect of stress on your body due to the cortisol hormone, and teach yourself about different health issues, including eating disorders and polycystic ovaries. These are some of the books that may empower you about body acceptance and positivity, More Than A Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament by Lexie and Lindsay Kite, The Art of Body Acceptance: Strengthen Your Relationship with Yourself Through Therapeutic Creative Exercises by Ashley Bennette. Your Body Is Not an Apology Workbook: Tools for Living Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renne. Young girls must read The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless by Charlotte Markey.

  • Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you are struggling with your relationship with your body or yourself, we encourage you to seek support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in body image and self-esteem struggles. At Serengeti, we can help you work through the thoughts and emotions you experience causing you to dislike yourself and together create a new relationship with yourself that embodies acceptance, love, and gratitude.  Visit our website at www.serengetiwellness.co to connect with a therapist who can help. We specialize in providing therapy, guidance tools, and techniques to help you improve your relationship with yourself to live a life with ease.

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