Most people look in the mirror every day, but as it turns out, very few people like what they see. A survey of females aged 18 to 65 found that nearly one in three would be willing to die younger in exchange for the ‘ideal’ body. Similarly, a study of British men found that 38 percent would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a ‘perfect’ physique. If you think those stats are alarming, consider this: no one is born hating their stomach, thighs or arms. Self-loathing and insecurities are learned behaviors that develop over time as a result of life experiences and media-driven messages. However, the good thing about a learned behavior is that it’s possible to overcome.
Here, Dr. Lexie Kite, PhD, Co-Director of Beauty Redefined, reveals some of the most common body insecurities, explains why you shouldn’t let them phase you and provides daily mantras that can help you push past the negative self talk. So while the masses are vowing to quit sugar or run a marathon this year, resolve to do something everlasting: overcome your body hang-ups. Get a head start by unfollowing all those #fitspo Instagram accounts that are just perpetuating your insecurities and then scroll down to learn what else you can do to start loving yourself, today!
HANG-UP #1: “I’m Embarrassed of My Cellulite.”
“Cellulite is everywhere in real life, but since it’s absolutely nowhere in TV, movies or magazines it’s easy to forget that. In fact, at least 80 percent of women have cellulite and a fair number of men have it, too,” says Kite. Because weight loss does not change the structure or shape of fat cells, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of dimpled skin no matter how trim you are, Kite explains. “The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can start accepting and loving yourself as you are. Shame gets you nowhere healthy, but loving and respecting yourself by eating healthy foods and staying active will improve your happiness, confidence and health.”
Your Daily Mantra: “Yes, I have cellulite and it may never go away. I’m going to rock my dimples with pride and treat my body right.”
HANG-UP #2: “I Wish I Still Had the Body I Had Five Years Ago.”
With the help of profit-driven, digitally altered media messages, body ideals have become perpetually out of reach—especially as we grow older and face slowing metabolisms and growing responsibilities. These messages teach us that our value is in our appearance above all else, which isn’t true, says Kite. Although your body may look different today, consider how your life has changed for the better over the years. Did you gain ten pounds and two beautiful children? Did you trade your abs of steel in for the promotion of a lifetime? If you’re nodding your head ‘yes,’ that’s amazing! Good for you for doing what makes you happy. Whenever you’re feeling down about how your physical appearance has changed, stop and consider all the wonderful things you’ve gotten in return.
Your Daily Mantra: “Yes, my body has changed, but so has my current situation. I love my life and my reflection does not define my worth!”
HANG-UP #3: “I Hate My __.”
Whether it’s your stomach, butt, chest or legs that has you bent out of shape, realize that “your body is an instrument to be used for your benefit, not something that should be hidden, fixed or monitored for how well it decorates the world. To develop a positive body image you’ll need to learn to value your body—and the specific area you’re self-conscious of—for what it can do rather than what it looks like,” says Kite. If you hate your butt, hit the squat rack and focus on increasing your glute strength. Hate your legs? Sign up for an indoor running class and show yourself just how fast they can move!
Your Daily Mantra: “My body is an instrument, not an ornament.”
HANG-UP #4: “Nothing Ever Fits Me Correctly.”
“It's time to stop blaming your body and start blaming the clothes. Many times, we think that if clothes we're trying on don't fit, we need to lose weight or get implants or work out a specific body part harder, but in reality, your body doesn't need fixing, the clothing does,” explains Kite. Plus, if the clothing isn’t fitting you correctly, realize that there are other people having the same struggles with the very same pair of pants in a different fitting room. Don’t think twice about it and move on until you find something that makes you feel as wonderful as you look! If you see someone built similarly to you, ask him or her where they like to shop. You’ll likely find a new clothing store or brand that’s in sync with how people are actually built, which can help you further boost your confidence.
Your Daily Mantra: “I am more than a body. The world needs me—not just a pretty vision of me—all of me. I will not let clothing define my worth.”