When I look in the mirror, usually what draws my attention the most are my flaws. For any compliment you can give me, I can counter it with a gripe about how this hangs or how that sticks out. Many of us have been rejecting our bodies for so long that we don’t even realize how negatively this affects are overall self-image. Case in point, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “If I was prettier, ‘insert stupid boy name’ wouldn’t have done this” or “If my body did ‘this’ instead of ‘this’, I’d feel more comfortable in my skin.”

Body image is complicated. We have these high (and ever-changing) expectations that we set ourselves up for; always reaching to achieve this ideal of beauty knowing that we’ll never really be satisfied. Plus, how can we talk about loving ourselves on the inside when we haven’t accepted what’s going on on the outside? Just as I strive to grow in wisdom and spirituality, I also strive to develop my own perception of physical beauty. That is to say, I’m focusing on what makes me feel beautiful and learning to mitigate the things that don’t.

Here’s a thought: let’s try to work with what we’ve got right now. Pre-weight loss. Pre-hair growth. Pre-whatever you’re working on. Remember that your magnetism and confidence come from within. Let’s learn to accentuate the positive in small ways that make us feel good in big ways. Here are a few ideas:

Step up your underwear game. It’s amazing how wearing pretty underwear can make you feel like a new woman! Take a look through your underwear drawer and throw away the old, stretched, torn, droopy panties. Invest in good bras that fit you correctly (go get fitted!) and make sure that you have a variety of bras that will work under a variety of tops. Store your pretty underthings neatly and wash them gently and separately.

Invest in professional treatments. I’m not talking about plastic surgery. However, if you have issues with your skin, have you seen a dermatologist? Do you know your options? What about facial hair? Have you explored laser hair removal? Plucking and waxing can cause hyperpigmentation, so they’re not the best option for black women. Instead of hiding problems like acne and unwanted hair, learn what your options are and use your grown woman money to find solutions for your grown woman beauty needs!

Dress to accentuate what you love about your body. Don’t buy clothes that are on trend but unflattering to your body type. Learn what shapes are flattering on you. I never used to try on clothes, but now I try almost everything on to see how it fits ME. Just because it’s cute, doesn’t mean it will be cute and/or comfortable on you. It’s never cute to be tugging and pulling at your clothes all day, and it just makes you feel self-conscious and distracted.

Get your clothes tailored. So many of us overlook this! I’m 5’9″ so I have to wear long or tall pants always. However, if I find a pair of regular length pants that fit great except for the length, I’ll buy them and have my tailor let the inseam down. If there’s just a slight change that would make that item fit you like a glove, then it’s worth paying a few extra dollars to make that happen.

Exercise, Eat healthier, Drink more water. Nothing makes you feel more beautiful than taking care of yourself. Sometimes our dissatisfaction with our bodies comes simply from our awareness that we’re not taking care of it like we should. We feel guilty and we see that guilt and mistreatment when we look in the mirror. Challenge yourself to adopt healthier habits, so you can feel better on the inside and look better on the outside.

“Don’t wait for the world to celebrate you. Carve out your own niche. Focus on what’s great, forget what’s not. Find joy in your own reflection.”
~Sarah Bon Breathnach

What do you think comes easier – loving your body or your mind? What’s more important?