Body positivity is a powerful social movement encouraging people to accept and celebrate all body types, regardless of size, skin colour, ability, or other factors. It aims to challenge societal beauty standards, uplift marginalised bodies, and promote self-confidence.
While the movement is not without its critics and downsides, it has brought positive changes for those struggling with body image. True body positivity differs from person to person, and no single message will resonate with everyone. For some, it can be a slippery slope to toxic positivity and becoming obsessed with their appearance. For others, it puts them on a path to more holistic self-acceptance.
In any case, you don’t have to be 100% committed to every tenet of body positivity to reap its benefits. You can try it out and see how it suits you. Are you curious to know how it can impact your daily life? Here are five simple ways to practise it.
1. Focus on Functionality
Shift your focus from how your body looks to what it can do. Your body is a vessel that enables you to experience the world. It lets you create, build, and connect with those around you. This mindset is integral to the body neutrality concept – what many believe is the middle-ground between body positivity and negativity.
Try physical activities that let you revel in your body’s capabilities. Move in whatever way feels comfortable. Explore a new sport, dance to your favourite tunes, or take leisurely walks. Enjoy every motion, big or small. Work with your hands: knit, craft little trinkets, and put puzzles together. Take a pottery class and see what you can make out of a lump of clay. The sooner you realise your body is more than something to see, the easier it becomes to embrace body acceptance.
2. Aim for Healthiness
The number on the scale isn’t the only measure of good health. Rather than obsessing over your weight or body shape, focus on being healthy – whatever that looks like. Let appearances take a backseat in your wellness and body confidence journey.
Prepare nourishing, well-balanced meals that help your body heal and thrive. Eat what makes you happy while practising moderation. Work out to build strength, improve blood flow, and reduce stress. Savour rest days in between exercises to let your body recuperate. If you shed a few pounds along the way, that’s just a side effect. Don’t let it be your goal.
Seek treatments that improve your quality of life, not just how you look. Invisible aligners, like ClearCorrect, happen to do both for dentition. They correct misalignment, offering more than an aesthetic boost – though that’s its most obvious perk. It can also help lower your risk for oral health issues like gum disease and tooth decay.
3. Shut Down Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is a form of self-criticism where your mental dialogue is hyper-focused on your perceived shortcomings. It can take many forms, from seemingly rational (“I shouldn’t wear shorts because my thighs are huge”) to overly catastrophising (“everyone must think I look horrendous”). As inconsequential as it may seem, it takes a toll on your self-perception in the long run.
One way to manage it is by remembering that your thoughts are rarely objective, especially when you’re inclined to believe the worst. So, practise talking to yourself like you would a friend. You wouldn’t pick apart someone you love! Bring that energy inward because you deserve that kindness, too.
You can also combat negative self-talk with positive affirmations: for every critique, try thinking of something you like about yourself. Rinse and repeat. Eventually, your thoughts will become more balanced – less “I’m all bad,” and more “I’m human, and that’s okay.”
4. Wear Comfortable Clothing
One practical tip for being more comfortable with your body: wear apparel that fits you now. Size up or down based on what you need today, not what you think your size “should” be. Bodies fluctuate all the time! Don’t get hung up on arbitrary sizing, especially since garments fit differently for everybody – no matter what the label says. Clothes should work for you, not the other way around.
Clothing shouldn’t feel like a prison, so avoid anything overly restrictive that won’t let your body breathe. Likewise, skip options that drown you in fabric. Wear clothes you can move freely in, that make you feel like yourself. Don’t waste energy fussing and fiddling until they look “just right”! Your outfits should enable your confidence without shrouding you in shame.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
As the familiar adage goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing yourself unfavourably to others leads to self-doubt and a nagging sense of inferiority. You might end up belittling your achievements, diminishing your worth, and self-isolating out of fear that your peers will think lowly of you.
Breaking out of the cycle of social comparison can be difficult, but it can help repair your relationship with yourself. Start small: use comparison as a motivational tool that brings you closer to your goals. Maybe you have a friend who radiates self-confidence – something you struggle with.
Instead of resenting them for it and putting yourself down, openly compliment them. Ask for tips on how you can build that within yourself, too. This helps you connect better with others and invites honest self-reflection, inspiring you to see what you can offer.
Remember: you’re more than what your body looks like – you’re more than your body, period. Learn how to practise body positivity every day to help boost your confidence and rewire negative thought patterns. It’s high time you view yourself as a whole person, complexities and all.
From New York to Instagram: The history of the body positivity movement. (2023). BBC Bitesize.
Fenneld. (2022, April 22). What’s the Difference Between Body Positivity and Body Neutrality? Cleveland Clinic.