Learn to Love Your Body

Stop making your body the target of a one-woman smear campaign. Here's how to get your confidence back.
Love Your Body

At one time or another, every woman thinks her life would be so much better if she dropped one dress size, had slimmer hips or looked like Heidi Klum. Most of the time, those dips in confidence appear only briefly before reality takes over: A happy life is about more than thin thighs or a supermodel smile. But every once in a while, you might find yourself stuck in a body image rut, unhappy with your looks and unable to see past it. The fix? No, not a miracle procedure or a dramatic weight loss — you need a body image boost.

"Left unchecked, a lack of body confidence can interfere with your quality of life, career and social time," says counselor Jenny Garth. Poor body image is the result of:

  • Extreme thinking: "I'll never be attractive to men because my thighs are too big."

  • Unrealistic expectations: "I wish I could be as skinny as I was before I got married and had three children."

  • Jumping to conclusions: "Everyone is staring at me thinking, 'No wonder she's so big — look at the dessert she's having.'"

  • Exaggerating: "There's no point in buying new clothes. I look horrible in absolutely everything I wear."

When worries about how you look start to dominate your thoughts, even keeping you from enjoying certain activities (like swimming, going out with friends or your husband, or running around the park with your kids), it's time to stop beating yourself up and give yourself a break. Looking good, after all, is all about feeling good. Here's how to get your body confidence back for keeps.

Avoid self-criticism
Enough of that self-flagellation. "I ask women, 'Would you put down your daughter, best friend or mother this way?' Of course not — so it's not OK to say these things to yourself," says Garth. Instead, aim to:
  • Replace every negative thought with a positive one (e.g., instead of "I hate my hips," try "I have pretty eyes").

  • Exercise to invest in a healthier, longer life, not just to change the way you look.

  • Praise yourself for your ongoing efforts to reach your goal weight.

  • Say "thank you" to compliments, instead of putting yourself down in response.

  • Think beautiful: Walk, talk and relate as though you're a beautiful gazelle, and a beautiful gazelle you will be.

Stop obsessing
  • Banish your scale to the garage and get on it only at on your weigh-in day.

  • Take down all but one mirror.

  • Don't beat yourself up for skimping on a workout or indulging in one more cookie than you had budgeted PointsPlus® values for. These are the times when you learn what your weaknesses are. Just take note, and strengthen your resolve to watch out for the same situation next time.
Dress to feel great
Feeling down about how you look? Take extra care with your makeup and hair and put on an outfit that makes you feel drop-dead gorgeous. Dress to accentuate your best features by:
  • Finding a signature color and sticking with it, top to bottom. "If you don't break the flow of the eye from the shoulder to the floor you'll get a longer, leaner, slimmer body line," says image consultant Jenny Hanson.

  • Choosing fabrics like wool, crepe and polyester crepe, which drape around the body in a flattering way, "unlike stiff linens and cottons that stretch to your widest point and hang there, making you look bigger," says Hanson.

  • Wearing tailored trousers with a tailored or belted jacket — one that loosely hugs the hips and finishes just below the hip line. This evergreen combo will define your waist.

  • Choosing A-line or tailored skirts that show off the curve of your leg. "These give a slimmer silhouette," Hanson explains.
Look at other women
Few women resemble supermodels (and let's face it, supermodels are paid to look good — it's their job! And even they still need makeup artists, expert camera angles and air brushing to look flawless). Most of your friends, co-workers and neighbors probably don't have a supermodel's figure, and yet you probably think they are each beautiful in their own unique way. Remember that you are too. Concentrate on improving your overall health, and your body confidence will soon soar.

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