In today’s society, men and women (especially women) are taught that appearance is of supreme importance—that our bodies are ornaments or decorations for others to admire. While it’s not a bad thing to want to feel confident or look put together, the work required to try and live up to society’s standards of perfection takes way too much time and energy—time and energy that could be spent pursuing other worthwhile goals like developing talents or helping someone in need.
Learning to love your body is definitely difficult, but it’s also a surefire way to rid yourself of the negative voices in society. Here are three worthwhile steps that will help you learn to love your body: 1. Recognize the decision of altered images. 2. Exercise and set fitness goals. 3. Be careful with how you use media, including social media.
Every time you see an image of a perfect-looking individual, remember this: What you’re seeing is not real. You’re seeing an edited photo that has been made to look flawless. Skin has been smoothed out, and body parts have been altered to create the illusion of perfect proportions—certain parts have been made smaller while others have been enhanced.
These visuals are not real, but when we see photos in the media (including social media), we often forget this fact and begin critiquing and comparing our bodies. When we remember that the images we’re seeing are edited, we remember that we shouldn’t be comparing our real bodies to these fake ones. Not only are these images edited, but keep in mind that models prepare extensively to get their bodies looking their best for a shoot. Models’ bodies don’t always look the way they do on the day of a photoshoot.
Exercise is empowering, so rather than focusing on your body’s appearance, focus on what it is capable of doing. Maybe you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness through hiking or taking long walks. Perhaps you want to take up biking or skiing. Maybe you want to set a goal to do a certain number of push-ups or learn how to swim or ice skate.
Don’t feel the need to do the exercise perfectly, but—just like a little kid—feel the joy of moving your body. As your fitness level increases, you will enjoy exercise even more. Not only will you be excited about what your body can do, but you will love the endorphins and energy boost you get as a result.
Unfollow people on social media whose images make you feel insecure about yourself. Try to avoid other forms of media that make you feel this same way. Remember this: The media’s impossible standard for physical appearance is meant to make us feel insecure and therefore drive profits in the beauty industry. Distance yourself from the media’s trap of insecurity as much as possible.
Remember that true, lasting beauty is found in one’s character, in one’s love and kindness toward others, and in one’s strengths and talents. You are so much more than the appearance of your body. Remember that it’s not a decoration for others to enjoy—your body is an instrument that allows you to live life to the fullest and to make the world a better place.