Summer is usually synonymous to bikini body season for many people, especially women. While the idea of better habits for health and nutrition is wonderful, this time of year always seems to reinforce and intensify the horrible messages we get about our bodies. As a result, the months counting down to summer means that gyms around the country experience an onslaught of new clients sign-ups with the goal of achieving society's ideal bikini body.
The Body Positive movement began in 1996, promoting a social environment where healthy eating and a positive body image would be the norm for all people. It's helped us address toxic messages about bikini bodies and messed-up ideals of perfection that have been lurking in our cultural conversation for decades. It's been the catalyst to change the narrative—and push brands around the world to keep up.
However, while body positivity sounds like such a nice idea, it’s not always attainable by simply changing habits. “Body positivity can feel like pressure,” says Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association. “The reality is that we live in a culture that makes it pretty tough to feel positive about our bodies every day.” It’s a worthy goal to work toward, but when we start blaming ourselves for not loving every single thing about our bodies all the time, it can make us feel even worse. “That’s when ‘body positivity’ can be a problematic term,” Mysko says. It can create one more way for you to feel bad about yourself.
So, rather than preach body positivity, let’s start making a shift toward working on body acceptance now that the summer is at its end. “Acceptance is about making peace with our bodies,” Mysko says. “It’s about striving to treat our bodies with respect—wherever we are on that journey.” In other words, you don’t have to feel positive about all aspects of your body all the time. We all have days when we look in the mirror and just aren’t feeling it. That’s OK. That’s normal. That does not make you a failure.
The key to body acceptance is, rather than demonize your jiggly belly or cellulite-sprinkled thighs, to work toward accepting them. You don’t have to want to post them on social media to prove that you love yourself. Your body hang-ups also don’t have to be “wrong” or “bad”—they’re simply a part of the way you’re built.
It’s been found that the first step in making body acceptance a reality is shifting your focus from how your body looks to what your body can do. With that thought, here are 12 ways to love your body:
Your body loves you! Now it's your turn to love your body back!
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