I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a subject that’s incredibly important to me and what my blog stands for: body confidence.
I first started Love, Renee Hannah back in 2016 as a way to document my personal style, my love of shopping, and all of the beautiful things that inspire me. Several months after posting pictures of myself, albeit inconsistently, I wrote an article Why I’m Learning to Love My Body, and why it’s so important to learn to love yourself and increase your confidence. Shortly after publishing, I heard the telltale ping! from my iPhone, indicating I had mail. I opened the app, thinking nothing of it, and was faced with an email I’ll never forget. A young woman (whose name I am withholding for privacy reasons) told me: “Thank you. Thank you for not only having the confidence to share your story, but for giving me the confidence to stand up for myself against others. Being a curvier girl myself, I get teased a lot for my size, and it stops me from doing a lot of things that I want to do, like rock a bikini or a crop top. I’m pretty healthy, but most people don’t see that because of my size. But I know I am healthy, and that’s all that matters. You helped me realize that and gave me some of my confidence back.”
I was speechless. I felt so incredible and in that moment, my goal was to try and make a difference in at least one person’s life, every day if I was able to.
I get emails weekly from readers asking how I achieved confidence, and how I stay body positive, in a world where we’re made to feel as if we don’t deserve to be stylish and beautiful, due to our size. After pondering my own personal struggles and sharing my story, I decided to share some of my top tips to help gain -and maintain- a state of body confidence and body positivity.
1. Spend More Time in Front of the Mirror- Naked!
If you’re like most women who aren’t comfortable with their bodies, you probably avoid the mirror as much as possible- especially in the nude. Passing in front of a mirror, I used to either fix my hair and makeup, or scrutinize how I looked. But did you know that it’s actually scientifically proven, if you spend more time in front of the mirror in the nude, you get more comfortable with your body? It’s true! Try doing your hair or makeup in the nude just once a week: it will start to change your perception, and focusing on something else (like your makeup) instead of your nude body, will help you become more confident in front of the mirror, naked or not. It’s going to be a little uncomfortable at first, but keep trying at it. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get used to!
2. Surround Yourself with Body Confident People
We all have things we can be insecure about, even the most confident of us. And I’m sure you’ve heard the saying misery loves company. So true! If you have a friend who is constantly putting her body down, her self hatred may be affecting the way you view your own body. Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious. The next time your friend starts to complain about her body, remind her that she she love and accept it, and change the conversation around. Talk about what you do love about your bodies: maybe you or she has gorgeous eyes or a killer smile. The positivity is infectious, and has a greater effect than a negative mentality.
3. Change Up Your Inner Dialogue
We all talk to ourselves (some of us even out loud!) and changing the way you converse with yourself internally can have a big effect on your self confidence. I was a big culprit of the negative dialogue trap: looking in the mirror and only thinking about how much I hate my thighs. But these thighs have also helped me run hundreds of miles, climb many mountains, and have quite literally supported me my entire life.
Perhaps you dislike your arms, but you’re an amazing baker who can knead bread or whip up a cheesecake like no one’s business. Be thankful for those strong arms of yours that help fuel your passions.
Maybe you’re a new mother, and are struggling with the way your body looks postpartum. Your body goes through so many incredible changes to accommodate the little human that grew inside. Be proud of all that your body did! Every scar, every mark, every change is proof of your journey. Changing your internal dialogue changes your mindset, and it’s so liberating to see yourself in a new light.
4. When You Look Good, You Feel Good
I’m one of those women who will still put on a little bit of makeup and shower before stepping out of the house, even if I’m just running to the post office. But feeling good about yourself is so much more than just wearing nice clothes, or wearing makeup. For most of us, making the effort to look good makes us feel good internally, boosting our self esteem and our confidence.
For you, that may mean never leaving the house before putting on a cute outfit, or always doing your hair. Regardless, make an effort to take care of yourself in ways that make you feel good. Go the extra mile: paint your nails, get a massage, learn a new hairstyle. Whatever makes you feel amazing, do it!
On that note, also avoid comparing yourself to celebrities. It’s easier said than done, but it also does more harm than you realize. Celebrities have a glam squad that makes their hair, skin, and makeup look perfect. They’re photoshopped, and most of us don’t look like that in real life. Aspire to be the very best version of yourself, not some idealistic standard the media expects you to be. Start complimenting yourself instead of putting yourself down. Trust me, it’s life changing.
5. There’s Magic in a Smile
Scientists agree that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you. A smile is contagious, it can make us appear more attractive to others, it lifts our mood (as well as the moods of those around us), and it can even lengthen our lives.
Forgive me, but my inner scientist is coming out in this next part! Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face.
Forcing yourself to smile can trick your mind and body into thinking you feel confident and amazing, and eventually the feelings of insecurity will go away and you will feel confident and amazing.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh