For women of every age, size and skin color, that can be a loaded question.
It makes sense considering we’re immersed in messages about how we look all day, every day.
The constant bombardment can leave us feeling less than positive when our bodies don’t match society’s made-up standard of beauty.
As pro-age women, we can choose to distrust, ignore and disregard the ageist messages we hear. We’re often happier andmore confidentbecause of it.
In the same way, choosing to disregard negative messages about our bodies can give us that same happiness and confidence.
It also leaves us more freedom to make decisions based on pleasure, rather than fear—and that’s good for usin many ways.
If you’re ready to accept and appreciate your body even more, these tips may help.
1. Stay present.
Our bodies are constantly changing throughout our lives. Most of those changes are due to natural, normal shifts in muscle tone, metabolism and hormones—among other things.
Try to stay present and appreciate what your body looks like and is capable of right now, rather than looking back at the way your body used to be.
No matter how your body may have changed, it is, at the very least, keeping you alive. That’s not a gift everyone gets, so it’s not a gift to take lightly.
Your body is likely capable of many things you may take for granted: walking, sleeping, reading, writing, hearing music, seeing beauty in nature, solving problems, smelling fresh coffee in the morning or tasting amazing food and converting it into energy.
Find whatever it is your body does well now and keep your focus there.
2. Be realistic.
It’s a rare individual who can say they love absolutely everything about their body, and that’s okay.
Appreciating your body isn’t about trying to force or fake anything.
In fact, researchers have found that repeating statements you don’t believe—like an affirmation that you love your love handles, when you actually don’t—can have a negative affect on your body image and self-esteem.
Instead of faking it, start wherever you are and work towards “body neutrality.” That means accepting your body without any negative feelings like guilt, shame or fear.
Perhaps you can’t say “I love my love handles,” or “I love my fine lines.”
But if you can look at whatever your least favorite feature happens to be without feeling the need to change it,you’ll be well on your way to appreciating every part of yourself.
3. Find value and self-worth in other places.
Do you believe that who you are depends on what you look like?
When those thoughts show up, question them. Where does your value really come from?
You may look at your family and friends and think about all the love you bring to so many people. Or consider what you’ve accomplished in your career or who you’ve helped in your life. Think about what’s still ahead for you, and how your presence makes the world a better place.
Your value is about so much more than what you look like.
4. Cultivate a positive environment.
While ageist messages are everywhere, some media sources can feed a sense of dissatisfaction with your current body more than others.
One way to release unhealthy or unrealistic standards is to control the type of media you consume.
Try to avoid sources that make you feel bad, inadequate or not-enough—especially when you’re feeling down or vulnerable.
Develop strong relationships with healthy people who encourage and model a positive body image. These people can help you see yourself for who you really are.
Also, be sure to set boundaries for anyone in your life who may have a less than positive outlook on body image.