The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, all doe-eyed and out-of-it, is look in the mirror and every single day, through my sleepy eyes, the image changes. Some days I see an eloquent and intelligent young woman with a beautiful body and face who is ready to take on the world. And other days, I see an unattractive girl who is worthless and not good enough. This habit is unhealthy and not something you would expect from a personal style blogger who regularly has pictures of herself taken and published on the world wide web – but it’s the reality for me, and millions of other women across the globe. I am Maria, and I am a sixteen year old who is insecure about her body. I constantly compare myself to other girls, and have an unrealistic image in my head of what I should look like, but I want to change. I want to stop. I want to be happy with my body, appreciate what it can do and promote positive body image in myself and others. I want to try my very best to make a change.
Today I've taken the first step in promoting and taking on a new perspective that will influence the way I love and respect my body. The reason I included pictures in this post of myself in a swimsuit (this is something I never thought I would have the courage to do) is because I want to take the first step in body confidence. This is who I am, this is what my body looks like and I am going to start loving it, nurturing it and setting a good example. I may not be society's definition of beautiful but what I see in these pictures is a girl with courage and confidence who is going to change the way she cares for her body.
True beauty really does come from within. The first step to self love and developing positive body image is to be healthy mentally. I'm talking about starting with your inner self, because without creating a healthy mind, heart and soul, it can be hard to be healthy from the outside.
A quote by Roald Dahl sums up the point of this post perfectly: A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
― Roald Dahl, The Twits
This quote really makes me smile. If you think good thoughts, you will glow with happiness and there is nothing more beautiful than someone with a genuinely happy smile on their face. And plus, people are attracted to happy people. Happiness is contagious and positivity is amazing to be around. My friends are all incredible and hanging out with them makes me feel wonderful. Surround yourself with a positive environment and it'll have an effect on you as well.
Here are a few things I like to do when I feel down about my body (or for when I just want to feel good!):
- Eat something filling, and healthy (perhaps a smoothie?)
- Go for an intense twenty minute run to get the blood pumping through my body (exercise makes you feel wonderful! It gives your skin a lovely and healthy glow and helps you sleep better at night!)
- Write some of your favourite things about yourself down on some paper and, as cliché as it sounds, pin it up somewhere, to remind yourself.
- Wear a pretty outfit and get dressed up!
- Head out to have tea with a friend.
- Go for a nature walk and bring along your camera
- Listen to some awesome and uplifting music and dance around your bedroom! (Anyone for Pretty Girl Rock by Keri Hilson?)
- Send someone a nice message, telling them how beautiful they are. It's always nice to receive a surprise message, you'll probably make their day! And it will give you the warm fuzzies too.
- Read a book that takes you away and changes your perspective of the world and makes you think.
- Bake! Bake a cake! And eat it!
- Go for a little shopping trip and buy yourself a present. Maybe a book, or a pair of earrings or a lovely smelling body wash.
- Think about how lucky you are! Write down all of the things that you feel lucky and blessed to have. Gratitude is another key to happiness.
- Spend time with someone from another generation... like your Grandparents. Their outlook on life is often simple and inspiring and can really give you the boost you need. I'm not really sure what I would do without my Grandparents today. And I wish I had spent more time with my Nana before she died a few years ago. She was an incredible, lovely woman and I can't wait to see her in heaven one day.
It’s just a fact of life now – bashing your appearance is now the social norm in friendship groups and in general everyday life. Women bond over their hatred for certain aspects of their bodies. It’s never really the other way around either; we don’t sit together and talk about the body parts that we love. Hearing something along the lines of: “I think I have a great waist! This dress really shows it off!”, is a rarity and if it is heard, it’s almost mistaken for being conceited. I think it’s really sad that instead of hearing a positive self-loving comment, instead we hear things like, “I hate my tummy. I can’t wear a bikini”.
It doesn't help either that you can’t line up at the grocery store without magazine headlines screaming that the latest diet will give you unwritten permission to wear a bikini or that fitted dress for the holiday season. It doesn't help that instead of praising women for having a natural and healthy body that is being looked after, brands and magazines are promoting cosmetic surgery and alteration as solutions. It doesn't help that instead of a message that promotes the beauty of all women of all shapes and sizes as perfect, we are bombarded with the message that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful.
I have a challenge for all of you starting from today: when you find yourself thinking or saying something negative about yourself; stop. Think the opposite. For example; if you find yourself feeling negative about your legs - wear the jeans that make them look freaking amazing! Fight it, and be fierce. Love your body and it’ll show. You’ll glow like a sunbeam and you’ll look beautiful without even trying. Don't do it because you want to look like a Victoria's Secret model, do it because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel beautiful. It makes you love your body.
I’m starting here and now. I think I look great in these photos. And I know you’re not really supposed to say that but I don’t care! I’m pleased with the way I look in my new navy blue bathing suit! I think it flatters my bust, and gives my body a fabulous 1950s shape! When I see these photos, I see a happy girl who is thinking lovely thoughts... and that's what matters. And tomorrow, I'm going to go for a 3km run (because oh my gosh, they feel wonderful afterwards), and feel GREAT when I get home. Then I might have a fudge brownie and watch Hart of Dixie with my Mum and sisters.
I know this whole "revolution" is going to be hard, but I'm going to do my best do stop hating on the human body. We're all guilty of it, but now is the time to finally make a positive difference.
As a conclusion, I want to encourage you all to make a change too. Write a post about what you love about yourself! Go out of your comfort zone and share a picture of yourself that you think you look great in. Write a status about three things that make you special and unique. Or comment below with your favourite features (inside and out). I'd love to read and hear all of them... because we all deserve to feel wonderful and confident and beautiful in our bodies.