Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Five Steps to Better Body Confidence

By Stephen Margelony-Lajoie

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The fashion industry is constantly bombarding consumers with images telling them how they should live their lives and what they’re supposed to want. The multi-billion dollar industries that control our media wouldn’t be making much money if they were spending millions telling people that they are perfectly fine just the way they are and to be content with what they already have, so it makes sense. Still, there’s a fine line between convincing people that they need the newest fashion trend or the most fuel-efficient vehicles and persuading people that living in their own skin isn’t quite good enough. This line has been crossed too many times. It’s time to start loving our bodies and feeling comfortable in our own skin, regardless of our size, color or other physical attributes. It isn’t easy, but with these five steps and time, you can go from aspiring to look like a runway or Abercrombie model to wanting to look like the best you that you can be.

Step One: Acceptance

This is the hardest part of anything: accepting the truth. You’re never going to look like an airbrushed model that was styled by a professional makeup artist who also happens to already possess very blessed genetics. You might have the genetics, but you can’t upload yourself into a computer program and, unless you’re Paris Hilton, you don’t have a personal stylist. Accept yourself for who and what you are. Love your curves, love your big forehead and love any and all of your so-called imperfections. Also, keep in mind that we look at the physical world too often for reassurance. Your existence is not defined by a number on the scale. Some of us are scholars, actors, singers, painters, writers, scientists or historians. Don’t just accept that you are only going to be confident in your own skin. Nothing can outshine the true beauty that comes from within.

Step Two: Create a Mantra

With the recent rise of Tumblr and personal blogging, many blogs geared towards people interested in “thinspiration” have become very popular. Some blogs take out-of-context celebrity quotes (such as Kate Moss’ infamous “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”) or create personal sayings and use them as mantras. These blogs are toxic to self-esteem and body acceptance, but creating a mantra is a useful tool to instigate the opposite effect of what these blogs are doing to young men and women. Create your own personal mantra and repeat it to yourself whenever you look in the mirror. It can be as cheesy as telling yourself that you’re beautiful, but if you say it enough times, you’ll truly start to believe it.

Flickr/Kenzie1970

Step Three: Think healthy, not skinny.

Sometimes we get so caught up on counting calories, the number of reps we can do or our favorite celebrity’s workout that we sacrifice what’s truly important: our health. Instead of focusing on looking a certain way, acknowledge that your health is and always will be more important than how you look naked. Starvation and fad diets are never the answers to any dietary dilemma and can do more harm in the long run than if you focus more on living a healthy lifestyle. Instead, focus on eating healthier, unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits and try to get in the recommended weekly physical activity (the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Recommends about 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week and at least two days of resistance training a week). Remember that the path to living a healthier lifestyle is a journey, not a two-week crash diet. Looking better will come in time, but don’t be obsessed with getting quick results. Eating healthier and getting more exercise will make you feel better about yourself, which is more important than looking a certain way.

Step Four: Look for a Support Network

The blogosphere gave rise to “thinspiration” blogs, but it’s also home to their counterparts. There are a lot of fashion blogs that cater to every man and woman. From blogs about normal, everyday people to plus-sized or naturally thin individuals of all ethnicities, there is something out there for everyone. Most blogging-centered websites like Tumblr offer their services for free, so if you can’t find anything that you like, there’s no reason that you can’t start your own blog. If you think that you have an eating disorder or disordered eating, there is help. The University Health Services offers anonymous help at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health. Whether you’re trying to become more comfortable in your skin or think that you need counseling, you shouldn’t go through it alone.

Step Five: Have Patience

You’ve been exposed to millions of advertisements that have told you that what you look like isn’t already perfect, so don’t expect to change your entire outlook overnight. Having better body confidence isn’t going to come easily, but it isn’t impossible. It’ll probably be a life-long struggle as long as the media and advertising industries are thriving and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. You can find body peace, though. It’ll take time and patience, but one day you’ll believe your own mantras and no advertisement will make you question your own beauty. Good luck. Body acceptance starts … now.

Stephen Margelony-Lajoie can be reached at [email protected]

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