Body confidence is something oft-praised but hard to achieve. With unrealistic body images propagated on the catwalk and impossible diets thrust upon us by A-list celebrities, finding confidence in your own body can feel like a losing battle.
But body confidence is something worth striving for. It’s something you can achieve in spite of the negative images reinforced by the media.
Here, I offer you some actionable ways you can boost your body confidence in a healthy, natural way.
Fake it till you make it
The old aphorism of “fake it till you make it” is thrown about so often that it almost loses its meaning. But it’s actually a genuine way to boost your body confidence.
You might have met people who, while not necessarily fitting the media stereotype of ‘beautiful’, walk into a room and fill it with their presence. Loud, lively, present — these people instantly draw others to them.
These are often people who have faked it till they made it.
Fighting years of negative self-image can feel like a losing battle. But a good place to start is to simply pretend.
Acting as though you are confident sounds counterintuitive — surely confidence comes once you love your body? But the truth is when you pretend to be confident, you start to internalize it. Your fake self-belief becomes genuine self-belief.
It might be hard at first (these quotes should help though) but stick with it. It gets easier with time, and your body confidence will shoot up as a result.
Sayonara, social media
Social media brings us together. It connects old friends, keeps distant families in touch, and helps us stay abreast of the world around us.
But it is also a toxic space that fosters negative self-image. By its very nature, it is a place where people showcase the best of themselves, artificially altered and curated so the world only sees what they want them to see.
When you scroll social on a daily basis, it’s inevitable that this has an impact on us. We start to wonder why our lives aren’t like someone else’s — we all do it.
If you’re struggling to delete your apps or sign out of Facebook, there are ways to overcome this. Find a digital detox app to block social media for certain periods to limit your time on them.
It’s also worth replacing social media with something else instead.
For instance, whenever you feel the urge to trawl your social feeds, try teaching yourself another language with an app like Duolingo instead.
You could even take up volunteering. The Live Your Dream network has plenty of opportunities for you to meet and empower other women. Volunteering is also a great way to boost your confidence too, so it’s a win-win.
The activity is up to you — as long as it distracts you from social media, it’s worth it.
Don’t rely on clothes — let them rely on you
For many of us, our clothes are our armor. They protect us from the appraising gaze of others and create a distance between our bodies and the scrutinizing eye of the media, our peers, and indeed ourselves.
But rather than leaning on clothes as a means of shielding us, look at them as adornments.
The clothes you wear should augment you. They should emphasize your body, rather than shrouding it.
Your underwear is a good place to start. When you wear something that feels comfortable, looks good, and (most importantly) makes you feel good too, that shines through no matter what you’re wearing.
Of course, finding underwear that combines function and style can be a gauntlet. Bras, in particular, can feel oppressive, an instrument for the male gaze.
Rather than wear something that feels oppressive, find a bra that feels good. Don’t feel like you have to opt for something objectively ‘sexy’ — wear what makes you feel attractive to yourself, not to others.
Comfort drives confidence. When you feel comfortable, you move more freely and it shines through you like a warm glow.
Immerse yourself in positive noise
When you’re trying to fight years of negative self-image and low body confidence, a one-off action won’t cut it — you need sustained positive messages.
Surround yourself with inspiring, uplifting words. This article is a good start, but go beyond that. There are countless websites (like Live Your Dream), podcasts, YouTube channels, and more all dedicated to embracing body positivity.
For instance, if you’re struggling to quit social media, at least do yourself a favor and follow a few body positivity accounts instead. Love Disfigure (run by the incredible Sylvia Mac) celebrates women with scars, disabilities, and more. Warning: you will be moved to joyful tears by these women.
Podcasts too are a great source of positive noise. As the name suggests, the Get Yourself Optimized podcast is perfect for helping you be the best you can be. It regularly shares insights into confidence at work, the notion of victimhood, and overcoming disability — uplifting stuff for your morning commute.
In the same vein, cut out those voices that bring you down. For instance, if you regularly browse celebrity websites featuring images of A-listers in bikinis, ditch it. Ditto for beauty Instagram accounts.
Finally, hear positive noises from yourself. Every morning, go to your mirror and tell yourself: “I am beautiful”.
Do this every day, loudly and confidently. At first, you might feel timid and shy. But with time, you will be shouting it at yourself joyfully, meaning every word and relishing it every time.
Share praise with your sisters
When you lack body confidence, the fitting room of a clothing outlet is a daunting thing. Flanked by women you deem more beautiful than yourself, you feel like a wallflower.
But the truth is, most (if not all) of those women are just as apprehensive. It’s all but impossible to escape the critical dialogue of glossy magazines, size-zero models, and the media as a whole.
Consequently, virtually all of us have a negative inner narrative, particularly when we’re trying on something new. Free from the male gaze, the fitting room is the perfect safe zone to share praise with your fellow sisters.
When you’re in a fitting room, offer compliments freely. It might feel strange at first — being so vulnerable with a stranger always is — but keep at it. The praise of a fellow sister in a fitting room can be an uplifting thing.
Loving yourself is easier said than done. With society spreading unachievable standards upon us at every turn, finding confidence in ourselves is a huge task.
But rather than looking to diet pills and false prophets, love yourself in a way that is sustainable and organic. Follow the tips above and learn to love yourself for what you are, not what you are expected to be.
Hollie Jones is an expert lifestyle blogger who lives for writing. Hollie’s drive, passion and background come from the arts and media sectors. You can read her latest blog posts on Hollie and the Ivy, where she shares tips and advice about her passions while having a lot of fun along the way