7 Ways to Encourage Young People to Be Body Positive

Do you feel body confident? Research shows that many people struggle with feeling confident in their own skin. The good news is that whatever state your body currently is in, you can learn to love the you that you are now.

Learning body confidence won’t happen overnight, but research shows that learning to appreciate how we look for all its quirks and so-called faults can help to keep our mental health strong. It also helps the young people in our lives develop body confident self-images. Given that body image disorders are on the rise among young people, this can be doubly important.

Below are seven tips on how to create and maintain body confidence. These aren’t meant to be magic cures, and they won’t make underlying mental health issues or body dysmorphia issues vanish–only proper treatment can help with that. What they can do though is contribute to cultivating a healthy and balanced view of who we are inside as well as out.

1. Think About What Your Body Does, Not How it Looks

Your body is more than just how you look. It is a massively complex interconnected set of systems that manage to function in tandem with each other and give rise to your everyday experience of the world around you. Your body allows you to enjoy so many sensations, from the soar of a musical symphony to the feel and taste of a juicy and sour berry on your tongue; from running with your friends or with your children to being able to do simple things like climb the stairs. Thinking about all that can be dizzying. Awe-inspiring even. When we realize that this body is the only one we’ll ever have, and that it is the product of millions of years of evolution, beauty can take on a new meaning; it’s hard not to like the skin you’re in when you appreciate all that our bodies accomplish on a day-to-day basis and all that it took to get us here.

2. Find One Thing About Your Body That You Love

Of course, a general feeling of appreciation for the wonder that is our bodies doesn’t necessarily equal body confidence. For sure, we all have plenty of things that we might wish we could change–but when was the last time you affirmed something that you like about your physical appearance?

Try looking in the mirror and finding one thing, or more than one thing, that you like about the way you look, and then celebrate it. Body image specialists believe that this can go some way to bringing balance to your negative self-talk and help you have an overall more healthy view of your body.

3. Now Look at Yourself as a Whole Person

Once you’ve found positive things to enjoy about yourself it’s useful to then start once again thinking about yourself as a whole person. What you’re looking for now is to weed out the voice in your head that compares you to other people. It’s easy to see actors and fitness stars in magazines and on the internet and think we don’t compare, but when we stop to think about it, their stories are probably very different from ours. When you look at your body as the story of your life, you begin then to have a new appreciation for its so-called flaws. That oversized nose you’ve always been self conscious about? That’s a trait your grandmother had. The cesarean scar from your first pregnancy? It’s a testament to what you went through to give birth to your beloved child. You can recognize this story and honor it, and nothing is taken away if you do decide to then make some changes–after all, that’s natural because your story is ongoing.

4. Treat Your Body With Respect

Respect means eating properly, exercising to keep your body healthy while doing something you love, and enjoying the occasional treat, too. Respecting your body means getting enough sleep and paying mind to your sexual health. It also means having lots of fun!

You are your body, and you deserve to treat yourself how you would hopefully treat others: with love and kindness.

5. Recognize Your Opinion of Your Body Is Ultimately What Matters

Society can pressure you to lose weight or, in particular if you are male, to put on muscle. Friends may say you are fine exactly as you are. Both opinions can be limiting in their own way if they do not match your own opinion of your body. What’s important is to recognize that because you are your body, the only opinion about your appearance that really matters is your own. Again, if you have found a great deal to appreciate about your body–whatever your size or shape–then that’s awesome. On the other hand, if you like your body but would like to make some changes, that’s valid, too.

6. Dress to Honor the Body You Have

Just as your body deserves respect, it also deserves to be dressed in ways that flatters it. This doesn’t need to cost much money, after all finding vintage style in discount stores and charity shops is all the rage right now. What it does mean is taking time to invest in how you look knowing that this can be key in shaping your confidence and communicating to the world who you are and how you would like to be treated.

7. Know that, Above All, Body Confidence Takes Practice

Many people who we class as body confident say that they didn’t arrive at that level of self-acceptance overnight. This is an ongoing process. Some days, even the most confident and classically beautiful looking people will feel non-too-pleased with some aspect of their appearance. The key is to not let negative self-talk take over and to keep practicing feeling good about our bodies because, when we find a reason to like our bodies and accept them, we are that much closer to being able to feel and give acceptance and positive reinforcement to others. Body confidence, it might sound like a buzzword but if we’re doing it properly, it can be a fulfilling goal.

Over to you: share your body confidence tips and tricks in the comments below! 

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

42 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki D2 years ago

Hmm

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Nikki Davey
Nikki D2 years ago

Hmm.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki D2 years ago

Hmmmmmm.

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sandra vito
Sandra V2 years ago

Gracias

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Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer M2 years ago

Wish my mother had helped me with this growing up

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha R2 years ago

Thank you

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha R2 years ago

Thank you

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Diana K.
Diana K2 years ago

Thank you.

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan H2 years ago

noted

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