We all have days when we feel less than beautiful, but it’s a real problem if those days stretch together into weeks, months, or even years. Nobody benefits, least of all you, when significant chunks of your time are spent telling yourself your body is in some way wrong or a failure.
And negative self-talk about your body, whether it stays inside your head or is spoken aloud to yourself or others, can do some real damage over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, negative self talk can contribute to stress, depression, and poorer physical health.
The good news is that you can switch this around by changing the way you think about, and talk about, your body — making a significant effort to focus on all the many reasons why your body is beautiful.
"By focusing on the positive aspects of your body you become more confident and you feel empowered," says personal trainer Lydia Di Francesco of Fit and Healthy 365. "You feel strong and in control. Feeling more confident has [many] benefits and can impact other areas of your life."
If you need some reminders or places to get started with turning your body talk around, here are ten reasons why your body is beautiful. Feel free to remind yourself of them every single day.
Many of us have body hang-ups around nudity and sexuality, but these can prevent you from experiencing all the ways your body can help you feel — and share — sexual pleasure. If your insecurities are a tough topic to talk to your partner about, discuss your concerns with a therapist, or invest some time in self-exploration of what works for your body. Exploring erogenous zones beyond the obvious can help you reconnect with the more obvious ones.
When a client demonstrates negativity towards their body, Di Francesco asks them to tell her one thing about their body that they’re proud of. It could be that it has given birth, that it has run a marathon, that it has survived an illness, or just that it gets you where you need to go.
Once you’ve considered what about your body makes you proud, Di Francesco suggests thinking about how that source of pride makes you feel. "The purpose is to get them to shift their thinking to the positive aspects of their body," she says. Your body can do a lot of great things that make you feel happy, strong, or fortunate — focus on those feelings and not the negative ones.
In some way or another, your body helps you get from point A to B. If you don’t face physical disabilities, work on appreciating the privilege of being able to use your body to navigate the world without barriers. If you do have some compromised physical abilities, then focus on the areas where you feel more confident and the ways your body helps you advocate for yourself and your needs.
Think about all the ways your body signals who you are, what you value and what you are interested in. Maybe it’s your fashionable haircut, your broad swimmers’ shoulders, or your carefully chosen tattoos. Or it could be the things you put on your body, like a political pin or a T-shirt from the best concert you’ve ever seen. Our bodies can signal a lot of positive things about us and what we love, in countless ways. Think about how you can use that ability to celebrate the ways your interests make you unique.
"Your body is both an amazing, unique landscape and a fascinating historical record," writes author Shelly Johnson. "There is no other landscape and historical record like it." Some of those records may be part of what you view negatively about your body — scars from childhood accidents, stretch marks from pregnancy, tattoos from a different time in your life. Thinking about these things as part of the story of your lived experience can help you see them in another way.
Research has shown that young women and girls who participate in sports or athletic activities have a more positive self-image and better states of psychological well-being. Perhaps they’re more aware of the ways that their bodies can be used to compete, to play with a team, and to excel athletically. But this is a lesson that can be learned at any age, whether you want to play an intramural sport, deepen your yoga practice, or train for a marathon.
Think of all the enriching ways bodies connect us with the world: it’s through our bodies that we taste delicious food, watch life-affirming films, hear transcendent music, and feel the relaxing effects of massage. And if your relationship with your body is complicated because one or more of your senses are compromised, there are others that can be heightened to compensate. Focus on the strong ways your body connects you with the world, regardless of your abilities in other areas.
Having a strong sense of the ways your body works can make it easier for you to understand when something is wrong. Of course, some physical ailments have physical symptoms, and those can alert you to conditions that need to be dealt with. But your body can also make you aware of your mental and emotional needs in physical ways — paying attention to what it’s telling you about sleep, stress, and general well-being can help you keep it healthy.
Working on body positivity isn’t just a boon for your own self-worth and self-esteem, though that’s clearly a great benefit. It can also make your body something that inspires other people to think more positively about their own when they see you carry yourself with confidence and speak well of your physical being. "You also become an example for those around you and help combat the thousands of images we see each daily that subtly tell us something is wrong with how we look," Di Francesco says.