How to be body confident when the world makes you feel fat and ugly

  • by IMAGE

Sarah Doyle is a life coach and a self-help expert. This January she is guiding us towards a more confident, comfortable version of ourselves.


Ok, I know the headline sounds harsh but this is important. With the beginning of every year, there is a phrase that is difficult to escape, “New Year, New Me.”

Since one of the most popular New Year Resolutions out there is to lose weight, it’s safe to say that for many “New Year, New Me” equates to “New Year, New Slimmer/Skinnier/Lighter Me.”

Well this year, I want to challenge you to something different. Instead of setting the same old resolution to cut out sugar, gluten, carbs or dairy, loose 10lbs or go down a dress size, how about you commit to a more body-confident type of resolution: “New Year, New Body-Confident Me.”

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I lived with a mild eating disorder

I studied as a life coach because I wanted to help as many as women (and men) as possible discover self-love and confidence through, in part, a healthy and positive body image. I found that the majority of self-esteem issues women experienced revolved around how they viewed their body. It makes me incredibly sad to see so many young girls and women limiting their life experiences because they aren't happy with how they look. More than anything though, I feel an overpowering sense of empathy.

Your negative body image or low body confidence isn’t your fault

For over 10 years I let my feelings about my body prevent me from living my life to the fullest! I used exercise and food as a tool to manage my weight. I viewed my body as an object, something to be made look pretty, skinny or lean. I said no, hid in the corner, changed outfits a million times and deleted photos. I lived with a mild eating disorder that dominated the headlines in my life for far too long.

What I can see now is that none of this was my fault. And your negative body image or low body confidence isn’t your fault either.

I was, and many of us are, victim to a diet culture that prays on our insecurities and fears. We have been taught that one of the most attractive features of our humanity is our appearance and the most desirable assets are youthful looking skin, a flat stomach, perky bum or long, toned legs.

And one more thing! We have been told that the best time of the year to alter our appearance is January 1 st .

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Read more Sarah Doyle: Don’t set your New Year resolutions before reading this, or at all! 

Extreme lengths

The media, fashion, fitness and beauty industries have conditioned us to fear our bodies, their flaws or imperfections.

Women will use creams for their skin that contain harmful ingredients, take fat from their bum to inject into their face, ingest dieting pills, purge, binge, starve, obsessively exercise and restrict food. As a result, women will suffer from disordered eating, eating disorders, appearance related anxiety, body dysmorphia disorder, low self-esteem, complications following surgical enhancements, poor body image and low self-confidence, body negativity.... the list goes on!

And dare I say that many of the industries above know this, and still decide to rub salt in our wounds to make their pray easier to catch.

Alarming reports suggest that somewhere between 6% and 20% of those seeking cosmetic surgery actually suffer from body dysmorphic disorder

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The average woman living in Ireland uses a little bit of makeup, fake eye lashes (or tan) to make themselves feel better about their body, and ease body related anxiety. I am not here to tell you how to express yourself or how to manage your confidence. What you do is your own prerogative.

However, those suffering from body dysmorphia related anxiety will go to extreme lengths to fix what they think is broken. There is a growing number of Irish people pursuing cosmetic surgery. Most candidates will elect to have surgery after measured deliberation; however, alarming reports suggest that somewhere between 6% and 20% of those seeking cosmetic surgery actually suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (Source: OCD Ireland)

Here is the truth

I can relate first hand to the negativity, shame, intense desire and even the obsession that you feel to change how you look. But I am here to tell you that it can be different.

You can feel body confidence right now because guess what? Our bodies are not broken, and they do not need to be fixed. The media, fashion, fitness and beauty industries – multibillion dollar industries in their own right – have invested A LOT of money in keeping our insecurities, in fashion.

If you want to feel more confident in a little black dress, wear the dress. If you want to get bikini body ready, put a bikini on your body. Here is the truth. The problem is not your body. It has never been your body. The problem is how you think about your body.

As I write this, I am 33 weeks pregnant and my beautiful round and wobbly belly is the first home my son will ever know.

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Your body is an incredible vehicle that, if you let it, will help you connect with your inner, strength, power, vitality, beauty and confidence. Healing an unhealthy relationship to your body will unlock a type of type of confidence like nothing you have ever known. And your journey can start today when you give yourself permission to express thanks for the incredible things that your body does (every day) to keep you alive, healthy, mobile and active.

As I write this, I am 33 weeks pregnant and my beautiful round and wobbly belly is the first home my son will ever know. Thank you, dear body, for all that you do for me and my son. I am so sorry for all the horrible things I have said to you. This New Year I resolve to treating you with love and kindness because I see now that you have never been broken.

You, my dear body, are and always have been enough.

Find Sarah Doyle at thebetterlifeproject.ie

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