By Jasmine, Sexuality Educator
When I look in the mirror;
I feel okay about myself,
not too bad or not too good.
Although, I don’t feel beautiful,
I know that I do several things really well and I celebrate those things.
Kids teased me in elementary school;
that went all the way through college.
When I look in the mirror,
I feel proud of who I am,
my mixed heritage, the way I dress,
and my love for helping others.
When I look in the mirror,
I feel beautiful, strong, and confident.
I haven’t always been this way. I started out staring at the mirror for long periods of time during my teenage years hoping my reflection would change. I loved others, but I neglected to love myself and it affected every area of my life. I shied away from certain opportunities, because I did not want to be in the spotlight where people could tease me. I could not see the positive things about myself. I wanted to feel good about myself, but I didn’t know how. A friend of mine suggested a few of the following tips by Margo Maine, Ph.D., and through them, I have grown to love myself.
• Tip #1: Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance. Add to it.
• Tip #2: Put a sign on your mirror saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
• Tip #3: Start saying to yourself, “Life is too short to waste time hating my body this way.”
• Tip #4: Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
• Tip #5: Choose to find beauty in the world and in yourself.
I know I’m not the only one with body image issues – often times we are so critical of ourselves. Did you know that “The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 165 pounds. The average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs 121 pounds (Martin, 2010)” ?Making comparisons to celebrities in media leaves us feeling inadequate. Developing a healthy self-esteem is a process that takes time and conscious effort. I challenge you to think of 2 positive thoughts for every negative thought that you have about yourself.
I find tip #1 is very helpful. You can keep a list in your purse or a notebook to remind yourself of your accomplishments and the things that you do well. Rehearsing the affirmation, “I’m beautiful inside and out.” every day will certainly boost your self-esteem. Make it a habit to repeat it at least 3 times when getting dressed in the morning. Positive thoughts carry a lot of weight and can change our perception when used in conjunction with other things. Finding a workout routine or going to the gym consistently will help you feel more positive about your body as well; one of my other favorite tips is to do something that only takes five minutes-everyone can fit a quick five minutes of exercise into their day. Maine puts things in perspective with this quote, “Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.” Make the choice to feel good about yourself and practice the tips that we have included above, it will make a positive change on your life; after all you are awesome and you deserve to be happy!
Loving yourself will help you experience a more meaningful relationship with a partner. It is a great foundation and it will allow you to make healthy relationship choices, because you respect and love yourself. We all know that confidence is sexy. It’s hard to pinpoint why that it is but research backs up this claim time and time again. In short, we know you can get to a healthier, more self-confident you that is ready for all relationships – especially those romantic ones.