By: Claire Allison
Edited by: Bridget Salice
It’s been a long journey to become the confident and radiating woman I am today. I would like to share some things that have really worked for me over the years, despite the challenges that came my way. Trying these things will push you out of your comfort zone, and help you become a better person in general!
1. Focus on Becoming the Best You
Becoming the best you is about more than just physical health. I found that trying to gain confidence by only focusing on my appearance left me unsatisfied. There is so much more to life than what you see in the mirror; it’s your feelings passions, relationships, and so much more. For once, you need to invest in yourself and be a little selfish! Do what you love, wear what you want, pursue your passions, and be who you are. The moment you let go of how you compare to everyone else is the moment you let yourself live life to the fullest.
2. Create a Strong Support System
Life is a stressful journey full of ups and downs. I recently watched a TedTalk video that I feel is extremely relevant here. One very important hormone that is released during stress is oxytocin, which initiates your body to strengthen close relationships. In other words, when things get tough, our bodies release chemical signals that push us to seek out others for support. Pretty amazing, right? Body image can be a struggle throughout your life, but you are never alone. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable talking about this with close family or friends? Well, I’m happy to inform you about resources right here on OSU’s campus, including Nutrition Coaching, The Body Project, Wellness Coaching, and more! I have listed a few more sources at the end of this article.
3. Practice Body Positivity
Mirror Exercise: Stand in front of a mirror with as little clothes on as possible. Write down 15 positive qualities about yourself (can be physical, emotional, etc.). Make sure you are looking at yourself while you come up with these qualities. I won’t lie, I could only come up with about 2 things the first time I tried this. It was so difficult and, naturally, I was focusing on the things I didn’t like. I challenged myself to keep doing it and it got easier every time. Now it’s to the point that the first thoughts in my head when I see my reflection are positive ones! The way we talk and think about ourselves impacts our behaviors so much.
Power Pose: Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Put each of your hands in a fist and place them on your hips. Open up your chest and hold your head high. Once you are in this pose, talk to yourself out loud and say positive affirmations. For example: “I am so strong. I am worthy.” I like doing this in the morning to create a confident mindset for the day. Research states that standing in this posture, even when we don’t really feel it, can boost feelings of confidence. I got this idea from a TedTalk as well.
Behavioral Challenges: Due to body image concerns, there may be things you avoid or make yourself do. An example would be only going out in public when your makeup is done. It seems daunting at first, but challenge these actions and see how it goes! I challenged myself to stop “mirror checking.” Every time I walked past a reflective surface, I looked at myself. Why should you stop doing this? Well, I think it really proves to yourself that you are your biggest critic. You realize that no one really cares if your hair is done or not and the world just keeps on turning. It’s an experience that helps you gain confidence in your ability to challenge societal standards, as well as your own, when it comes to beauty.
Shut Down Negative Talk: I’ve found it to be a weird bonding concept for women to talk badly about themselves to each other. When this happens in conversation, shut it down! Don’t let your friend talk badly about themselves, and certainly do not reinforce the behavior by chiming in. Change the subject entirely or turn the conversation in a positive direction. Shutting down this negative talk also applies to your own thoughts as well! If you catch yourself saying something mean about yourself, stop immediately and make it positive. These are small things that can make a big difference.
4. Be Aware of the Social Media You Expose Yourself To
Our generation spends A LOT of time on social media. If you’re going to be a part of that world, be aware of what you expose yourself to. What kinds of accounts or people do you follow? What content do they put out? How do you feel about yourself while scrolling through your feed? If the answer is not good, then you should revamp your social media experience. Friends have told me they only follow things they love (kittens, puppies, food, etc.) on Instagram so this is the only content they see. This puts them in control and makes social media a positive and happy experience. If you’re going to use social media, use it to empower yourself, not to compare yourself to others!
5. It’s Okay to Want to Make a Change!
Initially, it was hard for me to change my thoughts and behaviors because I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want people to know that I was struggling or how vulnerable I felt. It also seems that “self-improvement shaming” is becoming a thing today, which in my opinion, is absurd. Of course, learning to accept and embrace who you are is important, but that doesn’t mean you should try to force yourself to be accepting of something that makes you really unhappy. If you have an opportunity to make yourself happier, then what’s holding you back?! The idea of change is not where the issues arise, it’s what the intentions are behind the change. Don’t feel embarrassed if you’re not where you want to be. The only thing that could be embarrassing is doing nothing about it!
More sources at Ohio State University:
- Eating Disorder Treatment Team https://ccs.osu.edu/about-us-and-our-services/eating-disorder-treatment-team/
- Body Sense Student Org https://activities.osu.edu/involvement/student_organizations/find_a_student_org/?i=4233&l=B&page=2
- Counseling and Consultation Service https://ccs.osu.edu/self-help/eating-body-image/
- Student Health Services https://shs.osu.edu/
- Project Heal OSU Chapter https://www.theprojectheal.org/
- The Body Image Health Task Force https://bitf.ehe.osu.edu/