I tricked myself into loving my body using a variety of methods and steps. I say tricked, but I really mean I trained myself to look at and think about my body in neutral and positive ways. Its not easy and I have a long ways to go but I can confidently say I don’t hate what I see in the mirror anymore (and haven’t for a while) and the mirror was a really important part of learning to love my body.
Now as a disclaimer because I don’t want people in the comments saying “But Brette, you’re a hypocrite! You’ve had plastic surgery!” and they would be kind of right. I have had plastic surgery. In 2015 I had a breast reduction. But did my breast reduction automatically make me love my body? Did it take away my insecurities? Did it erase every negative body image issue I had struggled with for years? No it did not. My breast reduction was only part of the steps I had to take to love my body and that step was improving my quality of life: not changing parts of me that I hated just because I could.
I, like probably everybody you know, struggled with loving my body. You might be reading this for that exact reason. I want you to know that loving your body isn’t about having a “perfect” body or having a body that subjectively looks good. Loving your body is about recognizing your body for the amazing things it does, becoming comfortable in your own skin, and dismissing negative self talk. You can be any body type and still have body image issues. Body image is how we perceive, not what we are. You can hate your body and change it to be what you want, but you will probably still hate your body because you’ve laid the groundwork for a negative body image. When you tell yourself you aren’t good enough over and over again, you will never feel good enough; At least not until you decide you are good enough. To be good enough is to be comfortable.
You can’t love your body without first being comfortable with it.
The first part of loving my body started with being comfortable with it. I think the best way to become comfortable with your body and what it looks like, is to look at it. There are exceptions to this advice and any readers with Body Dysmorphia may not find any help from this post or it may be triggering.
I got used to seeing my body as it is by looking at it. And I don’t mean those quick glances everyone does when they walk by a mirror or reflective window; I mean taking the time to look at your body. To see it. To acknowledge it. To accept it. To be comfortable seeing your own body. The first step to loving your body after years of self hate is to feel neutral about your body. I repeat, the first step to feeling good about your body is to feel neutral about it. To feel neutral we need to be comfortable.
How do we get comfortable?
Get naked. Don’t be shocked that I’m telling you to get naked, because thats exactly what I’m telling you to do. Get naked.
Get naked. Be vulnerable. See your body for the beautiful, hardworking piece of art that it is.
Being naked is the most important step to this “trick.”
When they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that means you. You are the beholder when it comes to your body. You get to decide what is beautiful to you. And sometimes we need to broaden our understanding of what is beautiful. We need to become comfortable with beauty as we see it, not as we are told to see it.
So how do you behold your beauty? Getting naked is a good place to start.
It’s actually fairly simple to incorporate nudity in your daily routine, once you get over the fear of being naked. I read advice years ago about getting ready naked in the morning because it makes you feel better about yourself. I tried it once and never looked back. But there’s more to this advice than just feeling better about yourself, because that’s an awful lot to expect from one routine change.
The last thing I do in the morning is put clothes on. I do my entire morning routine (sans breakfast, I eat with clothes on thank you very much) in the nude or in my underwear. This allows me to passively see my body for however long it takes me to get ready in the morning. It allows me to confront my body every single day. This routine exposure (pun intended) made me comfortable with what my body looks like. When I look in the mirror I see me. I don’t see a body that I hate. I see a body that is just a body, and it’s my body. I didn’t suddenly love my body from doing this. I got used to seeing my body and in turn felt comfortable seeing my body. A lot of hate stems from discomfort. Remove the discomfort and you can begin to learn and grow.
The most important thing I learned from doing this for years is that comfort doesn’t come from staring at yourself for hours or actively looking at yourself. It’s the passive act of seeing yourself that is important. That’s why I recommend doing your morning routine, no matter how long, in the nude or in your underwear. Passively experiencing yourself can make feel more comfortable being you.
It’s like when we were kids and we learned mindsets and behaviors primarily from exposure to that mindset or behavior in action. Most of our understanding of how the world works is passive. It’s what we see, hear, and perceive: not what we are actively taught. Our parents can tell us that everyone is equal, but what they say and do might teach us something entirely different. Your mother might tell you that your body is just right growing up, but every time you hear her say “I’m so (trait perceived as negative),” we start to talk to ourselves that way too. That is how we learn and perceive. Exposure to something makes us more comfortable with it. Become uncomfortable with the abusive ways you speak to and about yourself. You allowed yourself to be comfortable with that behavior, now it’s time to get uncomfortable. Instead we should become comfortable with expressing love for our bodies.
The more we expose ourselves to our own bodies the more comfortable with them we will get.
So get naked, do your hair, do your makeup, heck maybe even eat breakfast and brush your teeth, do whatever it is you do in the morning to take care of yourself, then put your clothes on.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, it’s how we grow as people.
This trick won’t make you love your body overnight, It’s only the first step, but it will make you comfortable with seeing your body. Maybe not right away, but exposure takes time. The next step to loving your body is appreciating it, but that’s another post for another time.