Accentuate the Positive – Eliminate Negative Self Talk
In my work as a Style & Image mentor I work with hundreds of men and women and spend a lot of time getting to know them and their opinion on themselves so I can help with their self image, self worth and self esteem.
So much of my work in fact is helping others see themselves in a more positive light and teach them to engage in a bit more self love.
Is your negative body image holding you back ?
Sometimes it might be due to the negative people around you – partners, mothers, friends who might say things like
“you are not wearing that out are you ?”
“You don’t have the legs for that dress darling”
“It’s unfortunate love but you have got your grandfather’s big nose”
Often it is things that were said when the women were teenagers – imagine that ? by fathers, mothers, brothers and so on.
I was lucky.
The only thing my father would say when he saw what I was wearing was ” Is there not a hat that will finish off that outfit?” or ” You look amazing – do a runway for us”.
That is not to say I was not teased mercilessly for my flat chest (fried eggs ) being skinny (stick insect) large eyes (froggy) short hair (China Boy) – and when I finally hit puberty aged 16 and put on weight suddenly I was very negative about myself.
Are you that negative voice ?
Especially when it comes to body image, clothes and looking at yourself in the mirror.
I tell my Personal Styling & Image clients to stop looking at themselves as a collection of bits in the mirror, that if that bit wasn’t there, was smaller or was up there you might feel better .
You are not Mrs Potato Head !
This rarely is how men see themselves.
Research done has shown this is primarily due to the objectification of women in our society and how women’s bodies are used in advertising (don’t get me started .. that is a whole ‘nother post).
Don’t hate parts of yourself – love all of yourself.
Exercise because you love your body not because you hate it.
I am all for eating well, exercising and being healthy – looking after your body as it needs to carry you through life. If you feel untoned, unhealthy or are carrying extra weight then do something about it for your health. Talking negatively to yourself is not going to do anything but make you feel worse and do nothing.
But your body is not your self-worth. Your wobbly bits do not define you.
Your Body is the Best Accessory You Have
Whenever you are about to give any negative self-talk – think how that would sound if you said it to your daughters or a friend. This is clearly illustrated in this new Dove advert. Yes I know it is advertising but it is still pretty powerful.
It is the latest in Dove’s #speakbeautiful campaign which aimed to change the way women talk about beauty and self image on social media.
These are some tips that I have employed over the years with clients and also now with my children to make them more resilient to the media messages and things people say at school. I myself used some of these tips in my early twenties when I realised I was being negative about myself. I trained myself to see myself as an imperfect whole and flicked away negativity with a positive counter comment.
15 Tips for a Healthier Body Image
1. Appreciate what your body is capable of – especially if you have had kids and your body has changed and you are struggling with this – I often say to my girls – my body is amazing – it kept you warm and safe, gave birth to you and fed you for almost a whole year.
2. Do not compare yourself to others. Just because they are beautiful does not mean you are not and most images we are presented with are totally manipulated and airbrushed so they are as real as cartoons.
3. Remind yourself that “real beauty” comes from the inside. It is a state of mind. Why not try and redirect energy into being a better person on the inside – that is what will last.
4. Look at yourself as a whole person – who you actually are – not bits.
5. Each day say something nice to yourself in the mirror. – my favourite is “looking pretty good babe !”
6. You do not need other people to say nice things about your appearance learn to acknowledge your unique beauty yourself.
7. Keep a list of 5-10 things you like about yourself that are not related to what you look like.
8. Aim to have only positive people around you and shut down any negativity you hear whether it is about yourself, your children or others.
9. Wear clothes that make you feel good and happy.
10. Stop criticising others everywhere – in real life/ in mags/on TV – if you catch yourself – stop and say something nice instead about them.
11. Do not buy tabloid magazines or watch TV programs that perpetuate the body negativity messages.
12. Flick away those negative self talk with something positive immediately – train yourself to dismiss those negative body and beauty comments.
13. Compliment others who look good and have made an effort.
14. Focus on what you have achieved rather than what you look like.
15. Appreciate and love the body you are in now – not if you were 5 kilo lighter or had botox or whatever.
If that is not enough – thinking you are ugly is bad for your health and can actually lower your immune system.
I am a fan of TED and this talk by Dove’s self esteem officer is great.
Watch it – change the way you speak to yourself and consider yourself and others.