| Skylar Black
How to Develop a Positive Body Image
Swimsuit season is upon us, and with things starting to open up after over a year of restrictions, many of us just want to get some sun, see our friends, and make up for a year of isolation and chaos. But pulling that swimsuit out of the drawer isn’t always an easy process for everyone - for some of us, even the thought of going to the beach causes dread, anxiety, and feelings of loathing for our bodies.
Swimsuits are some of the most daunting pieces of clothing out there, especially if you struggle with body positivity. And even with the rise of body-positive beauty and clothing brands, it can still feel like body-positive swimwear is a long way away.
Whether you’re on the road to creating a more positive body image or still shy about showing skin in public, you should still be able to enjoy the outdoors and activities in the summer months. Here are some vital tips for practising self-love and body positivity during swimsuit season.
What is Body Positivity?
The body positivity movement is a response to the constant pressure placed on women by the beauty industry. Every day, we’re reminded about a standard of beauty that we aren’t meeting - whether it be the shape of our bodies, the quality of our skin, or something else about us that we feel we need to “fix.”
Body positivity asks us to stop punishing ourselves for what we aren’t, and start loving ourselves for what we are. With this mindset, you are more than your body - you are human, and that’s beautiful.
The body positivity movement that we’re familiar with today started in 1969 when Bill Fabrey decided to respond to the unfair treatment of his wife Joyce, who was fat. He created the National Association to Aid Fat Americans (NAAFA), which would go on to be renamed the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and become the longest-running fat rights organisation in the world.
In 1973, a group of feminists in California, operating as the Fat Underground group, released their Fat Manifesto. This document would become groundbreaking literature in the body positivity movement, demanding equal treatment of fat people “in all areas of life” and declaring industries such as the diet and beauty industry enemies of self-love.
Today, this movement of self-love and equal treatment is most common on social media. Role models such as singer-songwriter Lizzo post photos of themselves unapologetically, refusing to hide from society because of their bodies. While the movement faces rampant pushback and trolling for “glorifying obesity”, the message of the body positive movement stays strong - you are more than your body, and you’re worth more than you think you are.
Our Best Tips for Maintaining Body Positivity In Your Swimsuit
Seeing posts about positive body image on social media is one thing - unfortunately, actually going out in your swimsuit is another. Cultivating the confidence to love yourself, even when baring your skin to the world, takes a lot of time and effort.
It’s not impossible to love yourself - there are proven methods that can help you build confidence and make it easier to go out and enjoy the summer sunshine in your swimsuit.
1. Repeat Positive Affirmations Every Day
Positive affirmations are one of the most powerful psychological tools that we have - they can help you overcome low self-esteem, break bad habits, and help you reroute destructive paths of thinking. Telling yourself that you’re worth it every single day might feel silly, but you might find that, over time, you start to believe it.
Find affirmations that speak to you or target some of your loudest negative thoughts - they can be as broad as “I am enough” or as specific as “I look great in my new swimsuit!” Say them aloud in the mirror every morning, put them on sticky notes at your desk, or set them as reminders on your phone so you see them every day.
2. Compliment The Beautiful People Around You
It’s a lot easier to find things you like about yourself if you’re constantly finding them in other people. Complimenting your friends, partner, family, and even strangers isn’t just about making them feel good - it’s about training yourself to appreciate everyone for their beauty, no matter what. Eventually, this will include yourself.
3. Tune Your Surroundings For Positivity
It’s impossible to practice total self-love if you’re constantly absorbing negative messages about body image from your surroundings. Caring for your mental health is a lot like eating a healthy diet - you need to be careful what you put into your mind because it affects what comes out.
Try tuning your social media feeds to block out harmful messages. Consume media and messages that support your journey and make you feel good. If someone is constantly putting you down or pointing out your insecurities, it might be time to take a break from their company. Prioritise positivity so that you can produce positivity.
4. Focus On Your Best Qualities
Having a positive body image doesn’t mean that everything about you is perfect. It means that you have accepted your body as it is - you love the beautiful things about yourself and accept everything else.
Learning to look at yourself in the mirror and notice what you like about yourself can help you feel better about the things you’re insecure about. So take a good look - what do you like? Does your new haircut frame your face just right? Do you have a cute dimple on your chin? Take time to notice everything about yourself that you already love.
5. Quit Comparing Yourself To Others
Comparison is the death of self-love, and it’s essential to stop trying to see how you measure up to the people around you. Beauty can often feel like a competition that we’re never going to win, but it isn’t a race. We’re all on our own journey, and we’re all beautiful in our own way.
Whenever you find yourself comparing your body to someone else’s, take some time to remind yourself that you’re both just human, and you’re both beautiful.
6. Be Gentle And Kind With Your Self-Talk
Self-talk is one of the most important components of cultivating a positive body image. Bullying yourself and constantly reminding yourself of your insecurities is a surefire way to keep yourself in reductive thinking patterns and make it harder to make progress on your body positivity journey.
The basic rule for ensuring that you’re being gentle during your self-talk is to pretend that you’re saying it to a friend. Would you feel bad talking to a friend the way you talk to yourself?
7. Care For Your Body
Making sure that you’re well-cared-for is a huge step in developing a positive body image. Diet culture often tells us to deny ourselves and engage in harmful habits - combating those messages by taking care of yourself can be a powerful tool in your body positive toolkit. Eating healthy, getting exercise, and getting enough sleep can all give you more energy and make you feel better on the inside, which can make you feel better about the outside too!
For swimwear season, choosing body-positive swimwear that fits and suits your body type and personality is a great step in the right direction.