Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Dating Your Delightful Self- Woo Your Body!

Dating is fun! You get to spend time with people that interest you, and experience fun new events, with that flush of excitement and possibility. Whether you are single, playing the field, newly besotted or settled down- there's one person we could all commit ourselves to- ourselves! 
I truly believe we could all benefit from treating ourselves like a hot new beau- looking after ourselves, treating ourselves and saying 'I Do' to self love and self care. In this series of posts, I'll be exploring different aspects of taking the time to enjoy your own company and indulge yourself in courting the most important person in your life- you!

Part One -Woo Your Body
As in both romancing your body, and as in 'Woo!! Your body!'

Illustration by Melly Em Clark-Please Do not Share Without Permission

Body positivity as a movement is quickly gaining popularity- activists and pioneers of self love are leading the way in the world of body love and appreciation. Women's magazines are starting to address the themes of embracing your body and we're seeing a rise in pop music with body positive messages. Many of us recognise the concept of self love as a valid one- yet why does it feel so bloody difficult?
Letting go of negative thoughts can feel impossible at times. We all know how impressionable we can be from our surrounding factors. While progress is slowly being made, there are still certain ideals of exactly what is attractive. Even if somehow and, somewhat miraculously, tomorrow we awoke to a transformed and radically body positive world, full of representation for all different types of bodies, we could still have the lingering self criticism and self hate many of us have been taught to practise.  Addressing our bubble of self image as well as combatting the attitudes of the world around us is vital. I'm only part way through my 'journey' and I don't think it's ever something we complete- we always find new ways to improve our self image, but here are my tips for starting to become smitten with yourself!

Dress For Your Body Love Relationship Accordingly

-Many amazing bo-po activists march out of their comfort zones, donning skin tight garments and figure hugging outfits, but if you're new to Body Positivity, this can feel daunting at first. The notion of showcasing the areas we're encouraged to hide can bring on feelings of vulnerability and low confidence if it's something you're initially scared to try. What I urge you to do is to take it at your own pace, like you would with any other relationship! If you're raring to try on bodycon dresses and scuba leggings, go ahead and rock those looks- but if you feel happier and more comfortable in a baggy t-shirt and jeans, that's awesome too! Self love doesn't have to happen overnight (it rarely does) and you can always try more 'daring' styles later, if ever at all. Don't push yourself beyond what feels good to you, always make sure you feel at ease in what you are wearing, and take it one step at a time.

Whisper Sweet Nothings to Yourself

-It can feel amazing and empowering to embrace the parts of your body you once hated, but learning to love what you regard as flaws can be tricky. My advice is to start by identifying body parts or features you know you feel confident about and really focus on why you love them. Do this in a relaxed environment where you're less likely to feel anxious thinking of your body- while having a soothing bubble bath or before going to sleep, for example. Take time to fully take in these features and appreciate yourself as a sum of these parts and more- write all of them down if it helps! Learning to really love even one part of yourself is the rung on the ladder to appreciating your whole self. When you're ready, start to note the positive aspects of areas you're perhaps less confident with- for example, I've been self concious about my stomach before, but it's soft and warm and makes for a little hill down to the valley of my bits! But on days where I struggle to see this in a positive way (bad days can still happen) I try to remind myself of the areas I love- my boobs, my legs, my waist, and make the focus about those instead until I'm feeling better. When you find a new happy thought about your bod, it can help to jot them down and remind yourself of them on more self-conscious days- like a little love letter to your future self!

Get Naked!

-In my experience, nudity, or wearing very little, can help incredibly with body comfort. Now, I'm not insiting you sign up to the nearest nudist community (though if that's your thing-go you!), I just mean in ways that are practical, safe and comfortable for you. Sleeping naked made a huge difference for me, and while impractical during the colder months, this and pottering around indoors wearing not a lot made me feel more aware of the way my body looks, feels and moves. While it was scary at first, it's led to an increased understanding and confidence in my body. If it helps to wear something that makes you feel great (lingerie for example) that can be a great stepping stone too!

Commemorate Your Date

-Selfies are a sure-fire way to sweet self confidence. If you're feeling cute, share it! It doesn't have to be with the world, it could just be to a friend or partner when you dig yourself! Capturing moments of confidence in a visual log can lead to a collection of pictures of bliss, as well as adding to the body love revolution. If you do choose to share online, you'll inspire others too, leading to a stream of photos of positivity and wider representation! There seems to be the argument that selfies are seen as self-centered or vain, but I think anything that encourages self love and self appreciation can only be a good thing! Many women find that taking nudie pictures for themselves to look at can be another way of learning about your body and its awesomeness!

Find Your Body-Loving Soulmates

-One of the biggest influencers upon our self esteem, lifestyle choices and general happiness is 
who we interact with, from the people we spend time with to the impact of who we follow online. Social media can be rife with body shaming, aggressive messages and expectations, but you don't have to consume it. While there's power in witnessing and confronting these opinions, sometimes we absorb these thoughts subconsiously, and we can cut them out. I've found that unfollowing accounts that made me feel worthless and spread negative vibes throughout my mind has helped tremendously. Simply replace them with people who make you feel great! Getting involved in the body positive movement not only helps in times of low confidence but also adds to the overall power of the movement and its message that ALL bodies are worthy of love, and self-love. It also helps to find like-minded folk who you can talk to during a confidence crisis too, whether it's an online personality, or a friend. Reducing any negativity witnessed offline can be harder, as we can't use the same techniques with family and close ones. In my experience, I've spoken to family members and asked them not to use certain terms, and expressed why certain language or attitudes can be seen as upsetting or offensive, but changing a viewpoint isn't always possible. Seeking out friends who make me feel empowered, confident and unashamed to be who I am, however, has had a hugely positive effect, and can really alter how you see yourself.

Treat Your New Lover (You!) with Kindness

-When partners, friends or family come to us with moments of sadness, low confidence or worries, we take the time and care to ensure they feel safe, supported and loved- this same approach is necessary with ourselves too. When we have low days, it's easy to get caught up in anger towards our feelings, and the way we process our thoughts. Listen- all of your feelings are completely valid- you're allowed to not feel on top of the world, or feel stressed, anxious or confused at every day occurances. We're supposed to feel emotion and very few of us are happy all of the time. What's important is that you take care of yourself-treat yourself like you would a loved one. Think of the little things you've done for others, or things people have done for you, that have helped soothe and relax. Things like running a bath, a warm cup of hot chocolate and a hot water bottle, or a stroll out in the fresh air. Self care is another form of self love, and in my eyes, it's just as vital as being happy with your appearance.

If you're in need of someone to talk to regarding mental health, body issues, or anything else that's been troubling you, it's best that you speak to a trained professional- a list of UK based organisations can be found here. 

Please note that these are simply the techniques I used to kick-start loving myself, and it's always best to read a variety of views and sources and only do what works the best for you, your confidence and your comfort!

If you enjoyed this post, check out these awesome stories of self love, self care and the body loving revolution!

Michelle Marie's Finding My Feet 
Lottie L'Amour's It's Okay Not To Be Confident (And Other Confessions of a Body Positive Blogger)
The Vintage Lady of Lincoln on Finding Happiness Through Self Love 
She Loves Herself's Post on  Seven Things That Are Good for Soul
 Nerd About Town's shares Thoughts You Deserve
The Not So Secret Diary of a Wannabe Princess's Loving You Is Easy Because You're Beautiful
U Can't Wear That brings us A Message To My Sisters (That Means All of You)
Murder of Goths' declaration I Will Not Hide My Lumps and Bumps

Later this week, in tribute to Valentine's Day, I'll be sharing more posts about Dating Yourself! Have you written about self love or body positivity? Send me a link-I'd love to read them and hear your views!

Stay wonderful!


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