Learn to love the skin you’re in.
”Self-esteem isn’t everything,” legendary feminist and activist Gloria Steinem once said.
“It’s just that there’s nothing without it.”
With those words, Steinem emphasized the importance of having confidence in oneself. And in rediscovering (or maybe truly finding for the first time) your self-confidence, why not start with your body?
“When women feel good and powerful in our bodies, we trust ourselves, our instincts, and that our ideas are worthy,” says Alexandra Jamieson, a success coach for women and author of Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, Reclaim Your Body. “When we feel confident in our bodies, that how we look and feel about ourselves is great, we take action towards our goals and stand up for what we believe in. And when women stand up, use our voices, and feel our beliefs are worthy of being heard, the whole community, and the world, benefits.”
If becoming empowered in your own skin feels like a challenge, take small steps — and know that each victory leads to another. “When a woman’s relationship with food is healthy and loving, her self-confidence is strong,” explains Jamieson, adding that, “When women get comfortable with their sexual expression and curiosity, their relationship with food is usually altered too. They go hand in hand.”
Knowing and loving your body has myriad benefits, in addition to potentially changing the world: accepting and respecting yourself, establishing what’s normal and healthy for you so that you’re in tune with your own wellness, and last — but definitely not least —rightfully feeling like the amazing woman you are! Here are ten ways to get empowered in your own awesome body.
1. Get naked
Instead of racking up what you think of as your body’s flaws, embrace yourself for exactly who you are. The idea of the perfect body is a myth. So you’ve got cellulite — who doesn’t? Stretch marks? They’re a sign of your body’s miraculous abilities, and by the way, swimsuit models have them too. If you’re feeling down on yourself, some women swear by getting naked and having a solo dance party in front of a mirror.
2. Know your vagina
When was the last time you said hey to your vah-jay-jay? Grab a mirror and explore down there; you’ll get to know — and gain appreciation for — your own unique beauty. And seeing photographs of other (real) women’s lady bits can be empowering too, with the realization that no one out there really looks like an airbrushed Playmate or injection-molded plastic Barbie doll.
3. Love your period blood
You read that right. What with cramps, bloating, can-you-see-my-pad-through-my-jeans, and all the other joys that your period brings, when was the last time that you really appreciated menstruation for the miraculous process it is? If you try out a menstrual cup, you’ll be surprised at how little you actually bleed each month and how this natural function of your body doesn’t look or smell weird. Your period blood is a sign of your body doing it’s thing, and can also be an indicator of your general wellness — and that’s awesome.
4. Get a sex toy
“Sex is such a dangerous topic and exploration in women’s lives… We all crave physical pleasure, but we are in danger of being called a slut, too easy, or ‘not a good woman,’ if we explore our sexuality without shame,” warns Jamieson. If you know what turns you on, try going for it solo. If you’re not sure, there’s no time like the present to get to know yourself sexually and to focus, purely, on your own pleasure. Yes, it’s time to treat yourself to one of the awesome new sex toys that are out there (did you know there’s now a neat little gadget that makes you feel like you’re getting oral sex? You’re welcome!).
5. Nurture yourself from head to toe
Sometimes in our quest to conform to what’s considered pretty or chic or on-trend — frying our hair, punishing our bodies instead of nurturing them, covering ourselves with makeup — we lose sight of who we really are in the process. Take care of yourself by taking a breather from appearance-altering processes, harsh treatments, chemicals, and toxins. Instead, try using natural products that perpetuate your body’s wellness and enhance your natural assets, from curls to curves, and learn to truly feel beautiful as you are.
6. Eat right
Nurturing yourself means eating right, too. “Food should be one of the great pleasures in life, as it sustains us and feeds our energy and work in the world,” Jamieson says. “But it has most of us twisted into energetic pretzels: we worry about what we should eat, don’t trust our cravings and appetites, and usually feel like what we’re doing with food is somehow wrong. When a woman’s relationship with food is healthy and loving, her self-confidence is strong.”
7. Reconnect with your GYN
When was the last time you saw your gynecologist? Actually, do you even have a gynecologist? A lot of women put their gynecological health pretty low down on their list of priorities, for different reasons (including the cost if they don’t have insurance, concerns that something might be wrong and they don’t want to know, or embarrassment about being examined or talking about nitty-gritty body issues). You should have a gynecologist you like, who listens to you. If you don’t have one, ask for a rec (women friends, colleagues, the local listserv); tell them what you’re looking for with regard to things like approach and cost. Maybe a midwife will be what works for you, a family doctor, or a health clinic. Whoever you decide to see, do right by yourself and make it a regular date.
8. Hang with your squad
Grabbing dinner, a movie night or a clothing swap, meetups at yoga class or the gym — we all know that engaging in healthy friendships makes us feel good. Now studies show that positive relationships are actually proven to be beneficial to our health, not just in relation to our happiness, but to maintaining a healthy weight, meeting fitness goals, and reducing stress!
9. Enjoy some art
… nude art, that is: fierce, powerful, unapologetic paintings and photographs of other real, fab women in little or nothing and at all stages of their adult lives. You’ll be filled with love for your fellow females, in all their glorious imperfections — and subsequently, maybe you’ll experience some well-deserved self-love, too.
Image via tumblr.com.