7 body confidence tips worth listening to
It’s the first of September, and you can feel the change everywhere from your sock drawer (black tights klaxon!) to the chill in the air. But inside the lecture hall of London’s Royal Institution, there’s a bigger shift going on. At the first panel event of the Be Real campaign (slogan: Body Confidence for Everyone), the beauty industry is engaging in a rigorous checking of itself. And we’re lucky enough to have a ringside seat.
We start with some uncomfortable figures: 73 per cent of women are in a confidence crisis; 87 per cent feel they are judged more for their appearance than their ability, and a staggering 1.6 million people in the UK have eating disorders.
‘I’m worried that having worked as a beauty editor for years, I’ve been involved in an industry that’s best crushing, not building people’s confidence,’ says Suzanne Duckett, chair of the panel. She sits alongside an impressive line up, among them gold medal-winning track and field Olympian Stef Reid, founder of bareMinerals make up Leslie Blodgett, and wellness blogger Madeleine Shaw. All here to debate, discover new ways to cultivate body confidence, and make beauty work for good.
Here are our top seven ‘Amen, sister’ moments. We hope they inspire you to feel more comfortable and confident in your body this September.
1. Get over ourselves
In the kindest way possible. ‘There is nothing wrong with presenting ourselves well, but there are many other parts to who you are as a female,’ says Leslie Thomas, editor of The Times‘ Weekend supplement. ‘Body confidence should not be the only source of our confidence. We need to not care about beauty so much, it is something we do for fun,’ she adds.
2. Learn to be ‘in’ your body
‘We live from the neck up, especially in a busy, urban environment,’ says Elaine Slater, consulting psychologist at The Priory Hospital, where she helps clients with eating disorders and body image issues. As a former model, she also brings unique insight to her role as consultant psychologist for London Fashion Week.
‘Your body becomes a disconnected object, something that’s infinitely modifiable – with plastic surgery, extreme diets – not a part of ‘us’. Building body confidence in women needs to be an integration of mind, body and spirit,’ she continues.Read more: How to get in touch with your spiritual side
3. Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like
‘Beauty is a gift, not a talent,’ says Paralympic runner, Reid. ‘It’s important to see your body as something you can do amazing things with. If there was one thing I could eliminate from the human consciousness it would be the phrase ‘thigh gap’. Worry about your one-rep max squat, not the size of your thigh gap,’ she adds.
4. See beauty in difference
‘We’re bombarded with the idealised image,’ explains Slater. ‘The individual has been ironed out to the point where the ideal expectation is now flawlessness,’ she continues. The solution?
5. Own your standards, and live by them
At 16, Reid lost part of her leg in a boating accident but gained some serious perspective. ‘I checked out of media world, I knew I was never going to look like that,’ she says. Her advice for iron-clad self esteem: ‘Never give someone else the power to set your own standards.’
6. Be a choosy gatekeeper over your influencers
Come away from your regular Instagram browse or magazine read feeling worse about yourself? Perhaps it’s time for a cull. ‘I decide what I am getting in,’ says bareMinerals founder Blodgett. ‘I determine my life, and what I allow into it. I don’t listen to anything the Kardashians say!’
7. Check out
Even Shaw, a woman with 170,000+ Instagram followers knows a bit of time away from the screen can work wonders. ‘I took a two week social media break and discovered I had more time, and I felt less anxious,’ she explains. But you don’t have to go cold turkey. ‘It’s all about setting limits, like not checking your feeds before you go to bed, or waking up scrolling,’ she suggests.
Intrigued? We’re currently investigating what makes a ‘real’ woman. Keep your eyes peeled for our findings in an upcoming issue.
Do you have any new-season body confidence tips you want to share? Tweet them us @healthymag using #FreshStartSeptember