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In a world where beauty standards have been based on a small number of unrealistic body types for a long time, it is important to celebrate the beauty and value of different body types. Accepting individuality and questioning traditional ideas of beauty are important steps toward building a society that is more accepting and body-positive.
This is an issue that affects every single woman, starting at a very young age. I remember the exact moment I became self-conscious of my body—its size, it’s color, and more. I was 13. Why? Because my aunt made a comment about the size of my body. Up until that moment, I didn’t know there was something “wrong” with me. And looking back, I know she didn’t mean the comment to be vicious. She herself had been battling her own insecurities and chasing unrealistic beauty standards.
I also remember the exact moment I freed myself from chasing the same mythical beast. A few weeks ago, while journaling (I just spent 27 years of my life trying to lose weight and reach perfection!) I asked myself this simple but powerful question:
“What if I am already perfect today, exactly as I am now?”
Then I would have nothing left to chase, and I could live my life without holding myself back because I’m not thin enough, tall enough, or of a different skin color.
Don’t get me wrong, this question is not the only thing that helped me stop chasing unrealistic beauty standards. I also worked on a few other things that I list below. So make sure to read all the way to the end.
In this article, I talk about the importance of body diversity, share inspiring stories of women who have accepted their own bodies, and give tips on how to be more body-positive and accept your own shape.
Why it's Important to Have Different Body Types and Question Beauty Standards
One size should not fit all when it comes to beauty. Every woman has a different body type that is beautiful in and of itself. Sadly, mainstream media and advertising have often promoted unrealistic beauty standards that make women feel bad about themselves and their bodies. This skewed idea of beauty can make women feel bad about their bodies, have eating disorders, and have low self-esteem.
The only way to make society healthier and more accepting is to question these beauty standards. By accepting people of all shapes, sizes, and colors, we can change the way we think about beauty. It helps women see their own worth and beauty beyond what society says they should be.
Inspirational Stories of Women Embracing Their Unique Bodies
Bolaños was born with a large congenital nevus, which is a mole that covers a large part of the body. She also has moles that are smaller. The marks on her body don't hurt her in any way, except that she needs to wear sunscreen. However, they made her feel different from other kids when she was growing up. People in her class would make fun of her or call her a "chocolate chip cookie."
Bolaños, who was born in Mexico City, got to the point where she was very depressed when she was in college.
"I decided to do something for me because you cannot live always ashamed of yourself," she said.
She put pictures of her birthmarks on Instagram with the hashtag "#selflove."
"People that want to hurt you are going to smell your insecurities and are going to kill you with a simple word," she said. "Self-security is something that can be intimidating to these people and that will show you as an extraordinary person! Even self-security is a sign of beauty."
Make sure to read her complete inspiring story at Buzzfeed
For more inspiring stories, visit 21 Body Positive Stories from Real Women Who'll Inspire You to Love Yourself More
How to Build Body Positivity and Acceptance of Your Own Shape
Challenge Your Beliefs
Realize that there are many different ways to be beautiful. Make it a goal to appreciate the different people around you and to reject the media's unrealistic standards for beauty. Start by paying yourself a compliment each time you look in the mirror. Maybe start with something you haven't noticed about yourself. Then go out and compliment others. Admire the imperfections that you see in yourself and on other women. Imperfections are not curses, they are part of who we are. I have many flaws that I have tried to get rid of or hide but you know what? Not anymore.
Self-love means being kind and compassionate to yourself. Focus on what makes you special, what you're good at, and what you've done instead of what you think are your flaws. Celebrate all the wonderful things your body lets you do.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
Spend time with people who make you feel good and support you. Find groups that encourage you to love and accept your body. Engage in conversations that challenge harmful ways of thinking about your body.
Know that everyone has a different path. Comparing yourself to others only makes you feel worse about yourself. Instead, pay attention to your mental and physical progress and growth.
Exercise for Pleasure, Not Perfection
Do physical activities that make you happy and help your health as a whole. Focus less on getting a certain body type and more on feeling healthy and happy. Most days I walk. Not because I want to drop those last 5 pounds or because I guilt myself into doing it, but because I know it's good for my mental health. So instead of "I have to walk today," I think, "I going on a 10-minute mental health walk." This motivates me to get on the treadmill and clear my head - and yes, I feel much better after.
Learn about body diversity and how body shaming hurts people. The more you know, the better you'll be able to question social norms and push for positive change. Sometimes we say things without malice in passing, but what we say about other women's bodies or our own bodies can make a big negative impact. Recall the comments my own aunt made about my body in passing when I was 13 years old. That catapulted me into a 27-year old dieting cycle and everything that comes with it. What we say about ourselves and about others matters.
Celebrating each person's uniqueness and the beauty of different body types is an important and empowering step toward making society more open to everyone. We can make a world where everyone feels valued and accepted for who they are by going against traditional ideas of beauty and embracing our unique qualities. Let's try to build a future where self-love and acceptance grow by promoting body positivity one person at a time. Don't forget that you are a beautiful masterpiece the way you are.
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