Body confidence and self esteem

The weather is warm(ish), my son’s sports day is today, and this morning the birds woke me at 5am. Yes, summer is finally here! And so, unsurprisingly, the conversation turns to body confidence.

And there’s such a lot written on the subject of body confidence. How to get it, strengthen it, maintain it. And yet, simultaneously, there’s also lots of noise around diets. Especially during these summer months as people prepare to reveal more skin.

Research, just released, by the BACP revealed that body image is the leading course of self-esteem issues for women. With 61% of participants stating it as a reason for their low self-esteem.

Can we ever really feel body confident without losing weight/shaping up/ slimming down? Or is body confidence just the preserve of those in their twenties? Could feeling comfortable in our skin really be available to us all, with just a small mindset shift?

The best body confidence tips

To save you the time, I’ve cherry picked the best body confidence tips around. Those that are research backed, promise real results and are quick and easy to perform. I’ve eliminated anything too hardcore, or cringey (e.g. declaring aloud how beautiful you are, while staring at yourself naked, on a school day morning). Instead I’ve opted for starter level, with tips that are accessible to all.

  1. Focus on the positives
    Whoever you are, whatever your body shape or size, there’s always something to be thankful for. And it doesn’t have to be related to physical appearance. Thighs don’t need to be slender or tanned. You can simply be grateful that they’re strong enough to carry you around all day. Similarly, arms don’t need to be toned or sinewy, when you’re thankful that they’re strong enough to cuddle your children and hold a downward dog. This mindset is called body appreciation and has been shown to improve self-esteem and promote healthier eating habits. By shifting your perspective from what your body looks like, to what your body can do, your mind can go from fault finding to grateful.

2. Try an affirmation
I know repeating an affirmation may initially leave you feeling unpleasantly self-conscious, but stick with it. Because the science says it works. Research has shown that repeating positive mantras may create new neural pathways and perk-up old, sluggish ones.

But there’s a clause. You’ll need to be in it for the long term, because affirmations penetrate the subconscious through repetition. And repetition takes time. To help, I recommend choosing a mantra which feels believable. For example, “My body looks just fine and I’m grateful that it’s mine.” is rhyming, realistic and true. But to say “My body is banging and I look great in a thong bikini” may feel like a leap too far. And if you find it hard to think, you might find it hard to repeat 50 times a day.

3. Embrace what feels good to you and your body
There’s a theory that because the male gaze is both so prevalent and powerful in Western society, that women begin to internalise it. That is, they begin to imagine themselves through the eyes of a man. Consciously or unconsciously, considering what might be pleasing to said male as they dress, walk, talk, work and go about their daily business. The reasons why this happens are complex and numerous. But one way to begin shifting your perspective is to focus on yourself not as an object but as the subject. Consider how your body feels to you, not how it may look to others.

So during the summer this can mean focusing on the sand beneath your feet or the wind in your hair rather than how you look in your bikini. For the rest of the year it can mean anything from adjusting your heel height to wearing natural fabrics instead of synthetic ones – if these feel better. And it can also include considering how you dress, so you’re presenting your true personality to the world and not just dressing to please others or blend in.

I’d love to hear how you get on with these body confidence tips, so if you want to share please leave your comment below. Or email

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