Photo: Oleg Ivanov

Can I Ever Love My Body While Participating In Behavior Intended To Destroy It?

What does it mean to be body positive?


Ask yourself now whether you love, or at least accept your body? 

I can imagine most answers will be no (good for you if it’s a yes, can you give me tips?).

Many answers may be ‘yes’ today, and ‘no’’ tomorrow and perhaps a ‘maybe’ the day after. Why is it that we can never seem to just love our bodies? It starts with the fact that as much as you want to love your body, it can never happen while you participate in the world of self-hatred that is intent on destroying your body image.

Self-deprecating humor is my fave method of coping (or not) with my lack of body confidence. Another is my Instagram feed which tends to shift between the Kardashians and body positive influencers, depending on who I'm following and how much I dislike myself that week. Social media is probably my point of call for eliminating unhealthy behaviors, just unfollow people who make you feel shit, block negative people, there really is no need for them. Dare I say it, take a break from social media. I have done this and could literally watch my anxiety levels decrease. You can’t be complaining that you don’t feel good about yourself when you are curating a feed intent on making you feel bad about yourself. I’m not aiming to sound depressing here, I just believe that many of us, women, men and everyone in between, are not honest with ourselves and our methods of self-destruction. Let's be honest, body positivity isn’t going to happen until you get rid of your toxic behaviors. These can be different for everyone, seemingly small things like following toxic people on social media or self-destructive eating habits that escalate into serious problems.

For many, including me, the issue lies somewhat in the middle and varies on how shit I’m feeling that day. The problem is all mental health issues are intersectional, my personal body image is dependent on my depression, feelings of anxiety and just general numbness. The behaviors that come with depression like not wanting to get out of bed, let alone leaving the house mean that obviously I’m not exactly going to feel like a sexy gal. To combat my lack of body positivity I realize I have to work on those behaviors first because as much as people think, it’s kind of hard to fake-it-till-you-make-it with body image. It takes work. This work is tiring, I get it, but it’s worth it. 

Might be important to add here that I am being entirely hypocritical, I am not in therapy or counseling at all, certainly could benefit from it though. Those without mental health issues – if you exist- may not understand the ongoing confliction of whether to get help or not. Firstly, I am stubborn and like doing things on my own. Upon reflection, this hasn’t worked well for me so far so perhaps my second actual piece of advice (to you and myself) would be to get off your high horse and accept help. There is lots of self-help advice online; go for a walk, do some meditation or yoga, which certainly may help some people but for many serious therapies is much more beneficial. And - for your information - self-care bullshit like have a bubble-bath isn’t actually going to make the depressed amongst us to love ourselves btw, some serious help is needed there.

But back to the topic of loving yourself and body positivity. My third piece of advice would be to not pressure yourself to feel that in order to be a fully-functioning human you must worship your body like a goddess. Most days I look at myself and think, ah not too bad. Sometimes I think, jeez is that really what I look like, does everyone else's stomach look like that? On good days I think hell yes, I look like a fucking queen. Sadly, there's no answer yet as to how to feel like a queen every day and If you don’t feel like that yet you certainly aren’t alone. Forcing yourself to love yourself is not particularly healthy in my opinion, it doesn’t work but instead taking the time to get comfortable with it is much more realistic. How do I do this? I hear you ask. Well, I personally am an advocate for being naked, not in a completely nudist way, but sleeping naked, looking at yourself in the mirror naked, personally I find doing my makeup in the morning naked quite fun. These are small healthy behaviors you can adapt to get all comfy with yourself. It works for me anyway. 

In case you couldn’t tell yet, I am hardly an expert on being positive, but I am an example of someone trying to love herself. It doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes I slip back and start obsessing over Instagram-models – I was genuinely doing this last night and now I’m writing about body positivity, just to illustrate how fluctuating body positivity can be. My main message is just to try, whether that’s small changes each day to not torture yourself about how you look or making the choice to get therapy, go for it. There’s no point feeling sorry for your lack of confidence while you keep behaving in ways designed to destroy it. 


Preview image: Lovisa Lager by Mélanie Lehmann


Next up, How To Effectively Manage Your Anxiety