Last week plus size model, body activist and all-around badass Ashley Graham defended herself against a social media troll who made the comment “I thought you worked out”. Ashley responded by saying, “Girls with cellulite and rolls can’t work out also?” I love that Ashley is open about her own struggles to gain confidence. She’s also open about the criticism she deals with yet, still accepts and celebrates her body. Body positivity or healthy body image isn’t about having a perfect body or focusing exclusively on our body image/appearance. People with healthy body confidence don’t put all their focus on their body, let the way it looks define them or keep themselves from doing the things they want to do. Therefore, I think Ashley is a great example of someone embodying these concepts. Here are 5 Ashley-inspired tips to increase your own body confidence.
1. Make peace with the parts of your body you don’t like, then focus on what you do like
Ashley is open about her struggle to accept different parts of her body as well as the criticism she has received from others. This is normal, we all have parts of our body we struggle to love. In Ashley’s Ted Talk (link below) she begins her talk by looking at her reflection in a full-length mirror. She identifies parts of her body that many women struggle with including “back fat” and “cellulite”. She then says “That’s o.k. I choose to keep you.” Most importantly, positive body image is about accepting our bodies as they are and focusing on what we can appreciate. Maybe you have beautiful eyes or great hair that you love. Why spend your energy focusing on things you struggle to accept? Why not focus instead on those great features?
2. You don’t have to wait for your body to look a certain way. Wear what you want & do what you want now.
Ashley has been open about her early struggles as a plus-size model. These included top execs in her field telling her she would never make it as a model, much less be featured on a magazine cover. It would have been easy for Ashley to give into other peoples’ ideas of how she should dress or what she could do or expect for herself. Rather than give into these expectations Ashley has become a plus-size modeling pioneer. She’s been featured on the cover of numerous magazines and reached an unprecedented level of success. We all have the option to either follow other peoples’ expectations of how we should dress, or act based on what our body looks like. Or, we can choose to break this mold and live and dress in a way that feels authentic and good to you.
3. Practice activities that have nothing to do with how you look to build your self-confidence
An important part of healthy body-image is realizing that the way you look is not the most important thing in your life! What other qualities or hobbies make up who you are as a person? Have you always wanted to take a cooking class or start hiking? Why not consciously focus some of your energy this week on trying something new or nurturing an important relationship? When you stop spending so much time focusing on your body you’ll be amazed at how much energy you have to focus on other things like your relationships, career and hobbies.
4. Begin practicing positive self-talk (even if you don’t believe it yet)
This may require a little fake-it til’ ya make it. If you’re struggling with your body image or even hate the way you look it may seem impossible to say loving things about your body. The great thing is your brain doesn’t know the difference between saying and believing an affirmation. The more you start saying positive things about your body the more you’ll start to believe it. Eventually these thoughts will become habitual. Try sticking positive affirmations on sticky notes next to your mirror or in your wallet. If you need some inspiration check out either of Ashley’s videos below-she does an awesome job of modeling positive body-talk.
5. Ditch the body-shamers and start building a community of body-positivity
Above all, It’s hard to be healthy in a toxic environment. If you’re surrounding yourself with people, TV or social media that are body shaming or promote a specific body ideal it’s going to be really hard to feel good about your body! There are so many awesome body-positive resources online and through social media. If you’re not sure where to get started there are a few links to videos of Ashley below to get you started.
Here are a few videos of Ashley that I love; one is her original Ted Talk the other a fun and inspiring video, enjoy!
Ashley’s Ted Talk: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ashley+graham+ted+talk
A Fun and Inspiring Body Positive Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVlpKM0ExEE