Learn how I improved my body image, confidence and self-esteem in five easy steps here.
“Ope drew it,” my friend and classmate offered between giggles.
What Ope drew was a monstrous-looking face, with a pair of bulging eyeballs, uneven tribal marks that zig-zagged across each cheek, and rough cornrows of shuku that sat in the middle of a big balding head.
Ah, of course! My friend’s younger brother was the artist who thought nothing of turning the back page of my English notebook into a canvass of sorts. The proud signature beneath the drawing, just next to the words “Titi Olurin, semi-pretty babe”, said that much. Yet, the one to whom I had lent the notebook was not in the least disturbed by the cruel joke. Instead, she seemed thoroughly amused. But I was not.
At thirteen, I was painfully aware of the fact that I was anything but an early bloomer. While my sisters fitted well into their school uniforms, I swam in mine. Like most of my classmates, they both blossomed into fine teenagers, with the perfect amount of flesh in the right places. I, on the other hand, remained thin, with long awkward arms, narrow hips, and flat chest for what felt like forever. I was also particularly conscious of the curious set of teeth I possessed.
So, no, I was not amused. I was sad, and all the feelings of inadequacy I had experienced in primary school when a classmate called me “ugly” (Sigh! No wonder I hated school) came rushing back. I let the words of an eight-year-old and the drawing of someone I had hardly spoken two words to affect the way I saw myself. I believed these people who told me I wasn’t beautiful and allowed them exaggerate my flaws.
See five things I did to improve my body confidence and self-esteem below.
1. Tune out the voices
If you ever had to struggle with a negative body image, you would know that working towards regaining your confidence is certainly no walk in the park. But it is not impossible. You must, however, make a deliberate and conscious effort. The first thing I did was tune out the voices of so-called friends who fed my insecurities and tune in the voice that boosted my self-confidence – my voice!
Do you have friends who make derogatory comments about your looks and remind you that you are too fat, too thin, or too short? If you do, now is the time to shut them out for good. You do not need such friends. What you need is encouraging self-talk. I remember making it a habit to utter these words “I am beautiful” to my reflection in the mirror. I said it so often that I began to believe it. And I tried to avoid friends like the one who laughed over her brother’s cruel joke years ago.
2. Do not dwell on your flaws
Realizing that I was giving too much thought to my flaws than any positive feature of my body also got me on the right path to boosting my body confidence. Instead of seeing only my narrow hips, thin thighs, and flat buttocks, among other things, I started seeing great eyes, pointed nose, and long, straight legs.
Learn to be appreciative of the positive features of your body and flaunt them if you please. For a long time, I wore tank tops and tight jeans that did nothing to flatter my body. But as I grew older and understood my body type, I tried to wear clothes that downplayed my flaws and accentuated my assets.
3. Take care of your body
What is the point of focusing on what you cannot change? Focus on what you can change instead. Do you perhaps want to lose weight? It is possible that by changing your diet, lifestyle or by exercising you can achieve your aim. Why not focus on that? In my case, I realized that I could build the muscles around my thighs, hips and buttocks by exercising, so I got to it.
Above all, take care of your body. Eat healthy meals, exercise, get enough rest, and do what makes you happy.
4. Practise self-love
Ultimately, the key to great body confidence is a healthy dose of self-love (self-love not obsession). There is no other way around it. Learn to love your body. Accept it, embrace it, celebrate it, and protect it. Be your own best friend. Let go of any negative images or thoughts about yourself. Treat yourself the same way you would like to be treated. Do everything necessary to take care of yourself, even if it means spending a lot of money. Surround yourself with people who love you.
5. Celebrate who you are
Even if your body is not quite how you want it to be, there are so many other good things about you that are worth celebrating. Did you recently learn a new language, ace that course work, complete a project, or perform a kind deed for someone in need? Then, yes, you are amazing! Remember that your flaws do not define you. So, do not obsess over your imperfections so much so that you forget about the kind of person you are or need to be.