guest post by Christina Bird Ward
Like too many women, I’ve spent a large part of my life struggling with body image issues. It took me a long time to learn how to like (much less love) what I saw in the mirror. The good news is that loving yourself is a skill you can practice and learn over time.
Here are a few things I do to feel amazing in my own skin, which is pretty much the definition of sexy:
1. Smile at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house in the morning. I felt ridiculous when I first started doing it, but eventually, I began to feel like I was smiling at a friend and that she was smiling back. Now, I never leave the house without sharing that smile.
2. Find something you like about your body every day. It took me months before I could find one thing that I liked: my nose. My nose was the first thing that I could look at and think, “Yeah, I like the way that looks. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.” As time passed, the list of things I found tolerable about my body grew, then the things that I liked, then the things that I loved.
3. Recite mantras or affirmations to your reflection. Here are a few of my favorites:
“I love what I see in my reflection.”
“I am beautiful.”
“I am powerful.”
“I am love/loving/lovable/loved.”
“Because I accept and love myself, others will accept and love me.”
“Smile as a cause, not as an effect.”
4. Choose what you eat wisely. This doesn’t mean I don’t splurge. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza… and Nutella… and all sorts of other junk foods. But I try to be intentional with what and how I eat. I know that when I eat better, I feel better. And when I feel better, I look better, which makes me feel better, and so goes the cycle.
5. Wear sexy, flattering panties. Always. Got that? Always. Now this doesn’t mean that you have to wear some uncomfortable black lacy thing. Some of my most comfortable underoos are also my sexiest little numbers. Underwear is the first thing you put on. Let the first thought you have about your body be “I look damn sexy” and see how your
day week life changes.
6. Exercise because it feels good. If your body isn’t healthy, it doesn’t matter what size your pants are, you won’t feel your best. Stop exercising because you want to look good (although, that is an unavoidable side effect) and start working out because you want to take care of your beautiful, imperfect body.
7. Get rid of “fat/skinny pants.” They only remind you of how you used to be compared to now. The hardest struggle is learning to love your body right now. Throw out anything that you don’t feel good wearing.
8. Learn how to walk in heels and own at least one pair. I’m a heels girl, I can’t lie. There is a feeling I get when I’m confidently strutting in my sleek, black stiletto boots that just can’t compare with any other footwear. Your heels might be a little black dress or sea kayaking or ordering whiskey at a bar. The point is to do or wear something that makes you feel confident and daring.
9. Choose a partner who says nice things about you. I’ve been in a relationship with someone who criticized my body and pointed out my “flaws,” which only reinforced the negative messages I gave myself. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Be with someone who loves you exactly the way you are but who will challenge you to grow and work towards a healthy life together.
10. Say only positive things about your body, even when joking. In fifth grade, a girl in my class made fun of my “big butt.” She wasn’t far off, I was a skinny ten-year-old with a booty that was well before my time – but I held onto that statement for years. That was the moment I started worrying about my body and began to have an altered and inaccurate view of how I looked. Discard words that bring up negative emotions like “big” and “fat” and replace them with positive words like “voluptuous” and “full.”
Remember that loving others sometimes sneaks up on you and surprises you. Loving yourself is more deliberate. Take the first step: embrace yourself. You’re worth the love you have to give.
Christina Bird Ward
Christina Bird Ward is an Acupuncturist in San Diego, CA. She believes that a healthful life begins with loving yourself completely, mind and body.