Ways to Improve Self-Esteem: How I Learned to Love My Body

body image

Out of all the compliments I’ve received, one of my favorites would have to be that I exude confidence. I still laugh when someone says this because it wasn’t always this way. Up until roughly 4 years ago, I had a negative body image of myself. I know that everyone struggles with their own insecurities- but this one in particular was so bad that I was willing to pay thousands of dollars to change it. In this blog post, I not only wanna explain what that insecurity was, but I wanna share the process of how I overcame it and improved my self-esteem.


My Negative Body Image

What is negative body image? Negative body image is when a person feels that their looks don’t measure up to what society, family, friends, and the media expect.

My struggle: my boobs.

I didn’t like them and wanted to change them. I felt like clothes would look so much better if I “filled them out with bigger boobs” or I would look more feminine and more attractive with them. I also felt like I had a “boy body” (this phrase was unfortunately planted in my head by bullies).

Below are some old pics to show you how much I suffocated trying to push my boobs up to my chin lmao. (Mind you I have an A cup right now. How I got them to look like this was pure sorcery)


Convinced this insecurity was unshakeable, I made it a goal to get a boob job. The crowd I surrounded myself with didn’t help either, they were like “YES girl do it! You’d look so good with them.”

You guys, I really worked towards this goal. I did my research on which type I wanted, I found the perfect doctor, I saved, I even went as far as getting a consultation (mind you these are NOT free, mine was $200).

During this consultation I sat down with the doctor, tried implants on in a sports bra, chose the size I wanted, broke down the costs, etc.  This is a copy of the actual breakdown of costs to show you guys I was really about it lol (Arizona’s prices are way cheaper than CA)

Following the consultation, I set an appointment months out for the surgery and was over-the-moon excited. Day after day I pictured how my new set of tatas would look in tops, swimsuits, dresses, you name it.

A few weeks later, God stepped into my life and was like “hold up- do you really wanna do this?”

Short story time: I used to have a friend (past-tense, will probably explain why we’re not friends anymore in a separate blog post lol) who was -and still is- one of the most physically gorgeous human beings I’ve ever seen in person. She was fit, naturally beautiful- hair, eyes, skin, every ounce of her just screamed beauty.

Anyways, she called me hysterically crying one night (the stuttering, deep, gasping-for-air kinda cry like someone had died) and I asked her what was wrong. She went on for about an hour about how it was “unfair” that the men she was out partying with were only paying attention to her curvy friends- the ones with the cinched waists and bigger-than-usual booties. I pulled a Kourtney Kardashian in my head and thought “There are literally people in the world that are dying…”

At this time I would also like to point out that this specific friend was a model. People PAY HER to take her picture.

Do you guys see what my frustration was with all of this? How could a girl- who is employed by one of the biggest modeling agencies, the face of some of the biggest brands in the world- be so devastated that she wasn’t getting enough attention? That she didn’t compare to her other female counterparts?

When the call ended, a lightbulb went off in my head. I didn’t NEED to change my boobs or my appearance- I needed to change my PERCEPTION of myself.

Because after that call, I realized that: No matter what I looked like on the outside, my thoughts controlled what I saw in the mirror.

Like my friend, I could be the most gorgeous, beautifully unreal specimen the world has seen but if I didn’t believe I was that- then I WOULDN’T be that. I realized that even if I changed my appearance, it wouldn’t stop me from seeking external validation either. The only person I needed to convince was myself.

I’m not trying to bash those who have gone under the knife, by the way. I’m just sharing the epiphany I personally had- along with my own struggles, my thoughts, my own conclusions about myself.

It was after that phone call I decided I would put the same energy I had with researching doctors, procedures, etc, and direct it towards overcoming the negative image of myself. I started to read self-love/women empowerment blogs, articles, books, and even replaced my music with podcasts that promoted positive body image.

After committedly working on myself for two years (my work hasn’t stopped by the way, this is a lifelong journey), I noticeably saw a difference for a few reasons:

  1. I didn’t end up getting surgery, I cancelled it.
  2. I stopped comparing myself to other women.
  3. I can’t remember the last time I said anything negative about my body or appearance. I am truly at peace with the way I look.
  4. God gave me one of the bests gifts I’ve ever received- my angel on earth, my boyfriend Tai. (A gift I believe I wouldn’t be capable of receiving [and keeping] if I didn’t love myself).
  5. My quality of relationships has done a complete 180- I’m not only surrounded by amazing people, but I’m treated better by everyone in general (friends, family, men, employers). Because when you love yourself, you don’t accept anything less than what you deserve. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for relationships with other people.



These are the tips that helped me:

Use your social media better

By this, I mean follow other women with your body type and who completely own it. Don’t follow those who make you feel insecure. You may not realize you compare yourself when you scroll past 10 different women who are all shaped like Jessica Rabbit, but you do it subconsciously.

I read an article where scientists did a study on a group of girls, some exposed to social media and the others not so much. The conclusion was that those who were exposed to social media more were proved to have less self-esteem.

(Back to social media)My personal example: I follow these small-chested, confident women:


self-esteem
Gwen Stefani
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Olivia Culpo
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Karrueche
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Ariana Grande
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Zoe Saldana


Affirmations

Affirmations are short, powerful statements you recite to yourself outloud everyday. When I first read about them, I thought the idea was silly. But after reading book after book, I noticed there was a recurring theme in all of them: affirmations.

The saying “your thoughts become your reality” hold true. With affirmations you eliminate negative internal messages and motivate yourself subconsciously towards anything you wanna achieve. You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself.

You have to make sure the conversation in your head is filled with the right things.

Follow these steps to create your affirmation:

  1. Start with the words “I am.” …
  2. Use the present tense.
  3. State it in the positive.
  4. Keep it brief.
  5. Make it specific.
  6. Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word.

Examples relating to self-love and positive body image:

  • I am beautiful
  • I am worth more than my appearance
  • I love the woman staring back at me in the mirror
  • My body is my home, I will build it up not tear it down
  • Positivity is a choice, and I choose to be positive
  • I accept and love myself just the way I am
  • I am enough
  • I am worthy, I am deserving, I am strong.

Next: designate a time and place to say these outloud to yourself – every single day.

My example: I currently have 6 affirmations for different aspects of my life. The ones I recite specifically for body image are:

1) I am beautiful 2) I am worthy

I say my affirmations every morning- I get in my car, turn it on, sit in it for 5 minutes repeating them over and over again, and then I drive to work.

These really work, guys. I just recently got my best friend to use an affirmation for her goal of saving money. After 2 weeks of consistent recitation, she found herself in fact- saving money. She said that during times she would normally spend money with no hesitation, a small voice in her head told her “no- keep at your goal” and she quickly changed her mind. That’s what affirmations do. They are little subconscious reminders.

“Neurons that fire together wire together.” You can completely rewire your brain to love yourself. You are the only person standing in your way.


Join an empowering group (preferably a women’s group)

Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, uplifting people. Yoga classes, marathon training, bible study group, hiking group- anything that’s team/fitness/goal-oriented is perfect because people who respect & love their bodies take care of them.

Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel- ENERGY IS CONTAGIOUS. You will not love your body if you surround yourself with people who do not love theirs. You’ll only hinder your progress of self-love.

My example: Currently, I’m a part of a women’s empowerment group The Halo Halo Collective (a group of like-minded, powerful Filipina women that focus on well-being, support of one another and the community as well!). I am inspired by them every day.

body image
The Halo Halo Collective – can you spot me?



Flaunt your non-physical attributes more

Find traits that are NON-physical that you love about yourself (or that you’ve been told you have).

Example of non-physical traits: selflessness, intelligence, grace & poise, compassion, responsible (anyone can count on you), ambition, work ethic, etc. — try to show more of those. The traits I focused on were my humor and my compassion.

Let me break it down for you a little more: My best friend is HILARIOUS. Easily one of the funniest girls I know, but she was scared to show her humor off to those she wasn’t close to (coworker & strangers). I built her confidence enough to where she felt more comfortable showing it off (cracked more jokes and was more outgoing) at work and social gatherings.

A year later, she noticeably saw a difference in not only her confidence but in the way people treated her. She is currently a light at her job- people come to her when they need a laugh, a boost of energy, or to be put in a better mood. She has also made great new friends this way.

The more you show people your inner beauty, the more you get comfortable & confident about it. In return, you will attract people with that same beauty, confidence, and energy.


Go for a no-makeup look, often

If you don’t wear makeup as it is, this won’t apply to you. But a few years ago I wouldn’t leave the house unless I had a full face of makeup on- not even to the grocery store. I understand that not all women do this, but I used makeup sort of like a mask to hide behind. I just didn’t feel whole without it in a sense.

Then, during my self-love journey I started to slowly not wear it. I started with one day a week- no makeup at all. And then to two days, and then now currently, I only wear makeup on date-nights or to events.

It’s not only good for your skin, but it helps you be more comfortable in it. I shared this tip with one of my coworkers and she used the term “liberating” when she finally tried it out. Currently, she wears no makeup to work and said it really boosted her self-esteem.



Replace the negative with positive

Any time a negative thought about your body enters your mind- push it out. And don’t just push it out- replace it with a positive.

My example: I scrolled past a girl on Instagram with big boobs. Initial thought: “Ugh, I wish I had her boobs.” *pushes thought out of the way*

Replacement thought: “I have great hair. I am grateful for my thick, long, beautiful hair.”

By constantly practicing “pushing a negative thought out”, you’re training your mind to automatically do it when it comes in. And with that replacement thought, you’re practicing gratitude. Gratitude is ESSENTIAL to loving yourself.

Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world you live in will change.


Conclusion

Well guys, that was my story about my journey of self-love and building my self-esteem. This wasn’t an overnight process nor is this journey over. I can confidently say I am at peace with how my body looks and it has dramatically transformed my mind and well-being. In return, it has also transformed my relationships with other people! By sharing my story I hope to aid you in your own transformation.

& to the woman reading this:

Throw out society’s standards of beauty. Throw out your friends’, throw out men’s, throw out strangers’, throw out your family’s- throw out all the standards you have right now in this very moment.

Just because you don’t look like someone you consider beautiful, doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful yourself.

Flowers are beautiful and so are sunsets- but they look NOTHING alike. There are different definitions of beauty.

You are beautiful. You are enough.



Resources

Books:

Podcasts:

  • The PurposeGirl Podcast by Carin Rockind
  • The Love Yourself Podcast by Jessica May Tang
  • UnF*ck Your Brain to Create Feminist Confidence by Kara Loewentheil


If you loved this article about self-love, I wrote another blog post last year about self-love and how it affected my relationships! You can read it [here].

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