By Lildonia Lawrence. Photography by Deun Ivory.
The human body is the ultimate power vessel. It can carry us from A to B for decades and is the home to our spirit, psyche and soul. Despite this, at one point or another, most of us go through a period where we show our beautiful bodies less love than they deserve.
The relationship with our physical image is a complex one. It changes over time and requires continual checking in, similar to how we keep abreast of our physical and mental health. Most of the time, I feel at home within my skin, but I too have had periods where my relationship with my body has been challenged.
One that is most vivid is following a diagnosis of Endometriosis in 2017. This label changed the way I viewed myself. At the time, I felt broken, that my body had failed me and that I was somehow less of a woman. I regularly compared myself both, in my mind and in the mirror, to what I would call the “normal” woman (who doesn’t exist in real life by the way), but who in my mind, lived a happy, healthy, non-gynae issue life. Working in the field I do, and being around women daily, I know this isn’t true. But still, my self-image was so poor at that time that I couldn’t see anything other than the perceived lack that my body held.
During times of less than optimal body love, I try my best to spring into action and nip obstructing self-beliefs in the bud. Here are my top tips for showing your body some profound self-care:
Be Naked More!
This can be challenging, but it’s a fantastic way to get used to being in your most natural form. Whenever I need a body image boost, I spend as much time naked as I can. Sleeping, lounging, stretching, meditating, journaling and many other activities can be done in the nude. The more comfortable we get with being naked, the more secure we feel in our own skin. If being completely nude is too much of a stretch, start with baby steps; perhaps by sleeping topless and reflecting on how that makes you feel. Take care not to avoid mirrors. It’s easy to rush past them or use them as a place for critique, but spending even five minutes a day looking at ourselves with no agenda allows us to see our body with a non-judgemental eye.
Give Up Comparison!
They say comparison is the thief of joy, and I couldn’t agree more. One of the absolute worst things we can do for our self-image is comparing ourselves, and yet we still do it. Social media is the worst when it comes to this, with many of us comparing ourselves to images that aren’t even real due to editing, filtering and flattering angles. I adore other women's loveliness and the key to positive self-esteem is to admire others beauty without questioning your own. If I ever find myself in the comparison trap, I reframe my mental dialogue to compliment another whilst simultaneously complimenting myself. For example, I might say “Wow, she’s absolutely stunning … but I’m beautiful too”. It’s not conceited to be aware of your own worth. We are primed to see the negative in everything including our own beauty and by validating ourselves we are readdressing the balance.
List the Things You Love!
Our bodies are magical, and every single human body has a myriad of beautiful things about it. When our body image is low, we end up focusing on the things we don’t like about ourselves, adding to feelings of low self-worth. Making a list of things we love about our body is a wonderful way to remember all the fantastic things we possess. This can be difficult, but it's worth a try as the results can yield a higher level of awareness and self-love. When making your list try to catalogue a mix of physical attributes and functional skills. Beautiful examples I’ve heard from clients in the past have been statements such as "I love my long eyelashes" and "I love my body's ability to feed and nurture my child".
To love yourself is a thing of joy but it takes practice, dedication and effort. Carve out time to do the work sis, you’re worth it.
Lildonia is a life coach, yoga instructor and sex educator working in London. She has a background in psychology and mental health and has spent many years working in the health and wellbeing industries. Her week is spent with a mixture of delivering health workshops, teaching group classes and leading coaching sessions. Alongside this, she works as a wellbeing writer for several publications.
You can find out more about her work on instagram @lildonia.lawrence