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How to gain body confidence without losing weight

Updated: May 31, 2022

Have you ever looked at a photo from years ago, remembered feeling “fat”, or low on confidence? A photo that triggers negative memories about how you felt in that moment – but looking at it now you have no idea why?

Another of saying it would be, “I wish I was as thin as when I first thought I was fat.” Because our perspective of how we look is determined by so much more than what we actually see in the mirror. Chances are, when you look back at those old photos, you can’t figure out WHY you felt that way – because looking back at it now, you can see how good you look.

The WHY is diet culture.

The fact is, the issue is rarely your body. The issue is your body image. And your body image is affected by so many factors. When we are young, we hear people talking about bodies and diets and how people “should” look, or we are told things directly about how WE look – and those passing comments become our truth. They become our basis, they infiltrate our core and become the foundation upon which we build our own body image.

Think back to when you were growing up. If your mom was constantly restricting food, trying new diets and struggling with her own body image, that is something you are going to have taken on as a truth – we should not be happy with our body, we should restrict our food, we should try any diet to look different.

This truth is then cemented by society - have you ever seen a women’s magazine that does NOT advertise a diet on the front cover? We are bombarded with diet culture from all directions, it is engrained in our society so building upon the foundation of “we should not be happy with our body, we should restrict our food, we should try any diet to look different”, we feel validated by trying the new fad diets and we feel “normal” being uncomfortable in our bodies.

Remember that Mean Girls scene, where everyone stands in front on the mirror and compares things that they don’t like about their body? And they turn to Cady expectantly because she hasn’t offered up something she doesn’t like. THAT is diet culture. We are expected to hate our bodies and are seen as strange if we feel comfortable in our bodies ESPECIALLY if our bodies don’t fit the diet culture ideal aesthetic.

That brings us back to our perspective. Before we even look in the mirror we are already dealing with the foundation from our childhood, the societal pressures to look a certain way, the expectations that are so engrained that we don’t even question them plus our own personal insecurities. It is not just about what is reflected in the mirror. The mirror reflects our deepest feelings about our bodies.

And then when we look back and don’t have those attachments to our past body, because it’s just a photo, suddenly we can that there were no issues with how we looked, even though we felt so horrible at the time.

So how do we combat this?

1. Before you even look in the mirror, tell yourself you’re going to see something positive. So often we have predetermined how we will feel seeing our own reflection because we assume we are going to hate it.

2. Give yourself compliments. What do you love about yourself? Your hair, body, face, anything? It can feel strange to compliment yourself at first but it is part of reframing those foundation beliefs that you have grown up with.

3. Change your language to reframe your negative thoughts. Instead of “my thighs are so fat”, think “my thighs are so strong”. Focus on what your thighs DO for you instead of how they LOOK.

Dismantling diet culture is not something that is going to happen overnight but there are a few little daily tips that can help. You are more than how you look, and anybody of any size can be confident in themselves. Remember, practice makes perfect and you deserve to love your body.

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