Body positivity – you’ve probably heard of this before. It’s a movement that started in the mid 90’s to change the way our culture and media understand and define beauty. The goal of the body positivity movement is to affirm and value unique beauty and is meant to inspire self-acceptance and well-being of your own body. Body positivity also addresses how you view others and brings awareness to body shaming – which you may do to yourself and to those around you. Body positivity is not just for young women – it’s for all gender identities, ages, ethnicities, and races.
While it’s a wonderful idea, self-acceptance and appreciation of your own body probably isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s hard to stop automatic self-shaming thoughts and judgments of other people. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to adopt a more positive body outlook!
Awareness of negative thoughts about yourself and others will allow you to be more mindful of future thoughts. Once you can identify negative thoughts when they’re happening, ask yourself where those thoughts are coming from. For instance, the thoughts, “I should be thinner” or “She shouldn’t be eating that”, are shaming and harsh judgments to make about yourself and others. These thoughts also employ “should” statements, which are cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are thoughts that we believe to be true but are not actually true. Our brain can use cognitive distortions to reinforce negative beliefs about ourselves and others, keeping the negative cycle of thoughts going.
Once you take a step back to look at the thoughts you’re having about yourself and those around you, you can make steps towards changing those thoughts. Finally, body positivity is a way of thinking – it may take time to change your automatic thoughts about your own body and other’s, but the benefits of accepting and appreciating yourself is worth it. You’ll find your self-esteem will go up, impacting not only how you see yourself and your successes or failures, but also how you interact with others. Happiness and self-acceptance are contagious!