Our bodies are temples—but we don’t typically treat them as such. Instead, we hate them, we shame them, and we neglect them. And in turn, we hate, shame, and neglect ourselves. I say it’s time to change that narrative. It’s time we start loving and appreciating ourselves. And it’s time to put that love and appreciation on display.

Start With You

Promoting body positivity starts with you. Adopt and maintain a healthy body image by loving every single part of yourself. I know, this is easier said than done, but Larysa, a holistic counselor, is here to walk you through it. “Make lists of what you are grateful for about your body. Not just, ‘I like my hair,’ but it’s important to say why and then connect to that feeling,” she explains. “For example: ‘I like my hair BECAUSE it’s so poofy. I feel like Diana Ross, and it’s fun to sing when my hair is so big and fluffy!’

After one gets well practiced at that, I like to aim for advanced gratitude where you decide to be grateful for the parts of yourself you may have a harder time loving and even have a history of saying not nice things about. So, you can take, ‘Ugh, my ankles are so fat, I have cankles!’ and instead say, “You know what, I am grateful for my ankles because they can bend, and because of that, I am able to dance, which I love!” Or, a birth mark that someone might think is ugly, you could instead say, “Wow, this birthmark is so unique and makes it easier to distinguish me in photos. When my great grand kids are looking at photos of me, they’ll have an easier time knowing that was me in the photo!”

Once you start looking for the good, your feelings will change, and you can come to love that which you previously had negative comments for. As is said: where attention goes, energy flows. As you produce more gratitude for those specific areas, you will find more reasons to be grateful, and you will be more in line with the energy of gratitude and love and be more at peace with yourself.”

Encourage and Empower Others: 5 Steps

After you’ve spent some time working on you, use your knowledge to educate, encourage, and empower others! Help them to love themselves just the way they are too. Here are five easy ways to do so:

    1) Take a compliment.
    The best way to teach others to love themselves is to show that you love yourself. So when someone gives you a compliment, accept that compliment—don’t push it away or minimize it. Demonstrate confidence in addition to showing your appreciation for that nice compliment.

    2) Give out a compliment.
    Hand out some compliments too! If your friend is wearing a dress that you just love, tell her so. If your coworker is looking extra happy today, compliment him on that infectious smile! Don’t keep these thoughts to yourself—if they have the potential to lift someone up, then share them.

    3) Stop comparing.
    Stop comparing yourself to others; it doesn’t make anybody feel good. You might think that raving about how thin your friend is while simultaneously fat-shaming yourself could only do damage to your ego, but that’s not the case. It’s uncomfortable and it’s not a compliment. Don’t share these comparison thoughts, and work on seeing every person as a separate entity: one that is not meant to be compared with another.

    4) Post honest photos on social media.
    Social media is a highlight reel. This means that people only put their best selves on display: pictures that show off their good side; statuses about job promotions, exciting travels, and other successes. Make it your personal mission to be honest on social media. To post what’s real. This can include those flattering pictures and boastful statuses, sure—you’re awesome and deserve to flaunt it. But don’t exclude the not-so-perfect pictures and the statuses about real life struggles. These posts will help people accept themselves, flaws and all, and encourage them to do the same.

    5) Emulate love and positivity.
    And finally, emulate love and positivity everywhere you go. Be a bright light in the lives of your loved ones. And even in the lives of strangers. Smile, hand out those compliments, and do whatever you can to be a positive influence on the people around you.