Growing up, I was insecure and self conscious. I wanted to be invisible, and I didn’t want to be called on or looked at. In fact, I was so embarrassed of myself that one time Freshman year of high school, I sat next to a 'popular' boy and apologized for being near him - before proceeding to tell him I could move, if he wanted!!
I hated the way I looked. I hated my ‘gigantic’ nose. I hated my eyebrows. I hated my stomach. I hated my thighs. And I ESPECIALLY hated my height.
Fast forward to 2016 - I'm now co running a company dedicated to female empowerment called MOVE, I frequently give workshops and summer programs focused on body positivity, and I have a book coming out this summer that will do many things, including teaching girls how to love their bodies.
SO HOW DID I MAKE THAT ENORMOUS CHANGE?
I'm about to share with you five main tips to body positivity!
Above is a video on my favorite summer program memories.
ONE. You get to define beautiful.
The media does not get to determine if you're beautiful. Boys or whoever you may like do not get to determine if you're beautiful. YOU get to define beautiful for yourself.
Recently, a friend told me they didn't find me attractive because of my height. This would have absolutely devastated 15 year old Ashley, and I would have thought, 'He's right...I'm not attractive because of my height'. However, 19 year old Ashley literally doesn't even care. This is because a.) Just because someone says something about you does not mean that it’s true. And b.) It doesn't matter what he thinks of me - he does NOT get to determine if I'm beautiful or not. I do. I'm the only person that can. And I choose to view myself as a beautiful work in progress.
TWO. Change your mindset, not your body.
For so long, I blamed my body on things in my life that weren’t working. I was convinced that if I was just a little bit taller, boys would like me and I would feel more confident and things would be easier. I was so mean to myself for something out of my control. In order to love yourself, you can’t blame your body, because your body is never at fault. Your mindset and way of thinking are what need to be changed - not your body.
THREE. Become a person you really like.
Sophomore year of high school, I started to think about the person I wanted to be. I envisioned myself being ambitious, driven, educated, creative, bubbly, and brave. After I thought about who I wanted to become, I worked so that way I could become her. Today, I am proud to say that I am the person I wanted to be. Take a moment now to think about what kind of person you want to be. If you’re not sure who you want to be, or where to start, start by thinking about characteristics you admire in other people.
It’s important to like yourself as a person, because when you like yourself as a person, your body starts to matter less. Literally who cares what my stomach looks like - it’s my personality that matters! When I started to like myself as a person, I kind of stopped thinking about my body because it’s just unimportant. My brain and what I do is what matters.
FOUR. You are a work in progress...and that is beautiful :)
Let me tell you something right now: Your body is going to change as you get older and grow up. The reality is that as we age and grow up, our bodies are GOING to change.
We can try and fight our bodies from changing. We can try and fight the eventual wrinkles with wrinkle cream, we can try and lose the weight we gain after and if we someday give birth, and we can fight the college freshman 15 by dieting and being the only one of our friends not enjoying the pizza delivery at 2 am. That’s no fun though.
We can try and fight our bodies from changing, but wouldn’t it be so much better just to accept them?
So really, what would happen if you accepted your body...if you stopped fighting it and just accepted it and met your body where it was? What if you stopped judging and constantly evaluating your body? What if, just maybe...what if you viewed your body as a work in progress?
And more than that, what if you appreciated yourself for being a work in progress?
FIVE. Educate yourself.
It’s a lot easier to have a good body image, when you realize how annoying and harmful it was that you had a bad one in the first place. I seriously encourage all of you to spend time reading books and watching talks on media, body image, and more. And, a great way to do this is to sign up for my weekly newsletter.... http://www.ashleyolafsen.com/ :)
If you want to reach Ashley for press, a workshop, a speaking engagement or more, visit her website at http://www.ashleyolafsen.com/