How to Practice Body Positivity this School Year
By: Kate McCallum
For some, the new school year marks a season of making new friends, self-discovery, and adventure. However for many, the new year signifies a season of bodily insecurities that are put on display after not seeing people you know for a while. While a negative body image may feel extremely isolating, it is important to recognize that so many people, particularly women, struggle with these insecurities on a regular basis. We understand how difficult it can be to enjoy your summer vacation plagued with insecurity. This summer, Apricotton is here to provide you with tips to be your most body-confident self.
1. Know the Facts
The first step to combating body insecurity is finding comfort in the common nature of this issue. Here are some key statistics which may make you feel less alone in your struggles;
- One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. 46% of Apricotton’s community is unhappy with their appearance.
- 90% of young women report using a filter or editing their photos before posting, and 60% of Apricotton’s community does
- 74% of Apricotton’s community feels anxious to go to the beach because of people seeing their body
These statistics reflect an epidemic of negative body image among young women that we at Apricotton are working to address. We hope that the magnitude of this issue allows you to feel less alienated by your insecurities.
2. Be Selective About your Social Media Feed
The steady increase in body image issues among young women has been accelerated by the increased use of social media platforms, namely Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter. This relationship occurs as young women use social media to compare their bodies against an unrealistic and artificial ideal. As illustrated, the vast majority of photos you view on social media are edited or posed in a particular way to align with the female beauty standard. One of the most effective solutions to this source of body insecurity is to curate your social media feed to include only empowering and realistic content. This may involve unfollowing celebrity or influencer accounts, or following users who broadcast or celebrate an insecurity that you may share.
3. Nourish your Body
The key to finding a new sense of love for your body is practicing gratitude for all of the vital functions it performs for you everyday. Your body works overtime to keep you healthy and allow you to participate in all of the activities that make you, you! To reward your body, it is empowering to nourish it accordingly. Make sure you are eating a balanced, but unrestricted diet, indulge in your favorite foods, and exercise when you feel like it! There are no rules as to how to lead a healthy lifestyle, in fact it differs for everyone. By nourishing and being kind to your body, you may find it easier to accept the small insecurities that contribute to a negative body image. At the end of the day, body hair, fat rolls and stretch marks are traits of a normally functioning body - try your best to be grateful for your perfectly imperfect body!
4. Surround Yourself with Uplifting Friends & Family
The last thing you need as an individual struggling with negative body image are others pointing out your insecurities. If you find that your friends or family tend to comment on your body in a way that hurts your confidence, it can be beneficial to have a candid conversation with them to explain how these comments are impacting your mental wellness. While it may be difficult to share your insecurities, it is worthwhile to create a team of friends and family who build up your confidence, rather than tear it down. If their criticisms continue after a candid conversation, it may be time to seek out a new group of people who celebrate you for, not in spite of, your unique self.
5. Focus on Your Holistic Self
In order to reach true body confidence, you should avoid reducing your inherent value to your body. Instead, work on perceiving yourself as a whole and complex person, who is worth so much more than your physical appearance. When you begin to focus on your personal traits you can control, such as your hobbies, interests and how you treat others, you will be able to overlook your physical features that previously hurt your confidence. Practice positive self-talk by reminding yourself of your favorite features, such as your sense of humor, your intelligence, or your creativity! This may involve simply making a mental note, however it can be helpful to write a journal entry about your favorite traits, or writing sticky notes around your mirror to remind yourself of just how amazing you are.
Treat yourself with kindness - school is a time for learning, both in and out of the classroom!
See Apricotton’s community responses to body confidence questions and our responses below :) You're never alone.