Have you ever spent hours scrolling through Instagram, seeing all these beautiful tanned people in their bikinis, and you’re left feeling rubbish about yourself afterwards?

I can guarantee that all of us, at some point or another, has done this. It’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of comparison with what is other people’s highlight reels; and although getting food envy over someone’s freshly baked cookies is natural, and A-Okay, you shouldn’t be left feeling inadequate and low about yourself – because you are a powerful and fabulous person.

 

Falling into this trap is so easy in today’s day and age, with all these forms of social media around – the posed, edited, filtered photos that are carefully selected before they’re posted, so I’ve got 5 tips that have helped me on my body positive journey:

That Instagram model sunbathing on a beach in Bali that pops up on your feed that makes you feel instantly worse because she’s got the ‘desired’ body? Unfollow her.

That gym-mad guy with the huge arms that makes you feel like you’re not good enough? Unfollow him!

We follow hundreds of accounts of people we don’t know, that don’t lift us up. Instead, go fill your feed with bopo pages – the different bodies, skin colours, abilities, religions, sexualities, genders will make your feed burst with variety. A plethora of different very real, very normal people, that reinforce that there is NOTHING wrong with you.

That you are perfect exactly as you are, even when you’re on day of 4 dry shampoo and have tears running down your face (let’s be real, it’s not just tears either!). Go follow those accounts that show the highs and lows of life; that show that even when you jump on the bopo bandwagon, that everything isn’t suddenly rainbows and flowers – that even with being part of this community, you might have days where you don’t feel great about yourself. But the best thing about this community it that there is no judgement. It’s a community designed to lift one and other up; to give a voice to marginalised people; to breakdown boundaries and challenge societal expectations of us.

Would you really tell your BFF that that spot on their chin is disgusting and that they are ugly because of it?

Of course not.

So why on earth do we talk to ourselves like that? It can be tricky talking to yourself with kindness, rather than the usual hypercritical and judgemental way we have been taught to talk to yourselves. ‘Ugh, my stomach is disgusting! I need to lose weight’. No Susan, you don’t need to lose anything. Your body is great as it is, and your soft belly is perfect as it is – we’re all just living in a world that teaches us that our bodies are never good enough. (PS: they are).

Those thighs you’ve hated since your teens? They’ve helped carry you through life; they’ve let you go on adventures, make memories and experience the world.

And even if your body doesn’t let you do as much as you’d like it to, don’t be angry at it. ALL of our bodies are wonderful, purely because they contain our personality, our character, our morals, our beliefs, our humour, our love. We are so much more than our bodies.

Especially with summer comings around, there’s so much talk of getting that ‘summer bod’, and I’m here to tell you that that is a load of BS.

My summer bod is also my winter bod. You don’t need to change your body to be aesthetically pleasing to some stranger – you don’t exist to be gawped at. So your legs have cellulite? You rock that bikini and enjoy the beach. Enjoy the waves, the sand and the sun on your skin – you don’t exist for strangers on the beach to gawk at you.

We live in a society that is swamped with diet culture; spent years being taught that we are never good enough exactly as we are. Years of being told we need to lose weight, have huge muscles, look a certain way. And although joining the bopo community is a huge step in the right direction, it’s so important to realise that a whole mind shift won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself – you’re on the right track, and as long as you keep working towards self-love (jumping straight to self-love isn’t always realistic, so don’t feel disheartened if you can’t get there yet – aim for self-acceptance first!). There is no wrong way to be body positive – you’re doing great, and it’s amazing that you’ve embarked on this journey.

So those are my 5 top tips for you wonderful people! I hope they help you on your journey to self-love, because you are 100%, without a shadow of a doubt worth it. Shine on peeps.

My name’s Zoe, and I’m a 22-year-old biomed student in the UK with a slight dog obsession (who doesn’t love those furry bundles of joy?!). After struggling with various mental health issues, including recovery from anorexia nervosa, I found the body positive community and I haven’t looked back since. Since then, I took the plunge and started my very own bopo Instagram, which I created to help me first and foremost in my recovery, and has grown more than I could have ever imagined. Realising that in sharing my experiences, I’ve been able to help others has ignited my true calling in life – to carry on breaking down these unrealistic expectations, help others realise that they are worthy of rebuilding their relationship with food and their body. My goal is to be the voice I needed to hear when I was younger: that everyBODY deserves to be celebrated.

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