In a culture that encourages women to engage in trash talk about their own bodies, in which body confidence is an act of bravery, it can be daunting to consider broadcasting pride in your own physical form. But you CAN do it, even in the face of an oppressive environment, reluctant peers, and your own hesitation. I swear! It’s true! Because broadcasting body confidence doesn’t have to mean wearing an “I Love My Body” tee shirt or responding to every compliment by say, “Oh, I know.” There are a million tiny ways that you can tell the world you love your body, just as it is. And in doing so, you may just encourage other women to follow suit.
Watch your posture
Posture and pride are visually linked, no question about it, and walking tall is the simplest, quickest way to show anyone who observes you that you are confident and self-assured. Of course, good posture can convey pride about any number of personal traits, many of them non-physical. But it stands to reason that being mindful of your body‘s position as a means of expressing self-confidence will be linked, at least in part, with valuing that same body.
Telling women to smile is a controversial action, so let me be clear: I’m not telling you to smile. I’m telling you that choosing to smile is one way to broadcast your confidence. Body confidence can certainly be of the fierce, aggressive sort, but many folks who’ve worked hard to accumulate some self-love feel serene and grateful. Smiling at others shows them that serenity and gratitude. Sure, it’s incredibly indirect and the vast majority of onlookers won’t immediately think, “That woman must be smiling because she loves her body!” And yet, in many cases, those who are locked in constant battle with self-loathing are less likely to smile directly at others. Some days suck and some people piss us off, so I’m not advocating big, fake smiles 24/7. Just consider the powerful messages of calm confidence that are broadcast in a simple smile.
What now? You’re asking how telling OTHERS that they look fabulous will prove that you feel fabulous yourself? Well, I’ll tell ya. Jealousy is often borne of a fear of shortage: You envy what someone else has because hey, if they’ve got it, how could there possibly be enough to go around? By showing your lack of jealousy, you exude self-confidence. Indirectly, you’re saying, “I’m genuinely happy for you! Also, not threatened because I’m aware of my own self-worth!” Giving compliments not only spreads good karma and boosts the self-confidence of others, but – albeit indirectly – it shows observers that your generosity of spirit stems from personal pride.
Accept – and append – compliments
This is a more advanced technique, but I’m throwing it out there regardless. When someone compliments you, do NOT deflect. At the very least, respond with a heartfelt, “Thanks!” And once you’re feeling a bit bolder, try appending your responses. If a friend tells you she likes your dress, say, “Thanks! I just adore how it makes my legs look.” If a peer tells you she loves your shoes, say, “Oh thanks, lady! I feel so gorgeous and powerful in these … like I could take over the world!” If a friend tells you your hair looks amazing, say, “You are so sweet! I feel like my hair is one of my best features. Thanks for noticing!”
Don’t engage in body bashing
We women spend a lot of time and energy talking about how much we wish our acne would clear up, our upper arms would get firmer, our wrinkles would vanish. In this day and age, we do it without thinking. Those thoughts, emotions, and words flow forth from us like breaths the moment we’re among friendly comrades. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the best ways to curb trash talk is to have some sit-down talks with your closest friends and tell them you want it to stop. It may be most effective to couch it all in terms of your own feelings: “I worry about how it affects us,” or “I feel like this kind of talk erodes my self-confidence,” or “I’m just exhausted by going over these issues so constantly.” Try to actively avoid body bashing when you gather with your besties.
If that’s not possible, work on your traffic cop skills: Re-route the conversation whenever it turns to negative body talk. “Girls, do we REALLY need to go there? No, we don’t. Let me tell you about the movie I saw last night …” Or just, “Blah, blah, whatever. Hey, did you hear about the new Mexican restaurant that just opened?”
And, perhaps most importantly, don’t take the bait. As difficult as it will be, do not cave and bash your own body when you get verbally set up to do so. You know the drill. Your girlfriend says, “Ugh, I feel so fat and gross. If only I had thin calves like yours.” And you’re supposed to say, “No way! I hate my calves. I wish I had your gorgeous hair …” Yes, there are some compliments floating around in there, but they’re encased in sentiments of self-loathing and jealousy. Not good. When your buddy starts the ball rolling, be blunt. Say, “Stop. We’re both gorgeous, luminous, worthy women. Just look at us!” And move the conversation onward and upward.
This will mean something different to each of you, but regardless of how it manifests it is definitely a best practice. As always, this is no mandate: Some days require hide-inside clothes, comfy clothes, or no clothes at all. But as often as you can, dress in clothing that makes you feel amazing. Colors that bring out the highlights in your hair, styles that highlight what YOU love best about your figure, shoes that make you walk proudly and confidently. The clothing we wear can be a powerful tool for broadcasting body confidence.
You won’t love your body every single day. You won’t have the confidence and energy to engage all of these tactics every single day. But if you can try them out even a few times a week, they will make a difference. They will build upon themselves and help you nurture that vital seed of body confidence into a gorgeous bloom, and they will subtly show your peers that self-worth isn’t threatening or conceited or abnormal. Do what you can to broadcast body confidence, and you’ll be helping yourself while helping others; The best kind of goodwill you can possibly spread.
- How to Be a Body Image Role Model
- Dealing with Trash Talk Part 1, Part 2
- Self-love as Bravery