Christina Proctor
COLUMNIST

Love your body and its imperfections. This is a tall order for most people. When we look in the mirror, we often focus on the aspects of our appearance that we are unhappy with, while ignoring the parts that make us beautiful. This Valentine’s Day, I invite you to give yourself a little love, and work on accepting your body for what it is: unique and incomparable. We all have pictures in our mind of some ideal figure, towards which we are supposed to aspire. But the human race is naturally varied. Our individuality should be celebrated and embraced. You are you, and that is wonderful.

Accepting yourself for who you are and what you look like is one of the most precious gifts you can give yourself. Research suggests that our self-image has a powerful impact on our success, happiness and overall well-being. There are many tips you can incorporate on a daily basis which, in time, will help you to view yourself and your body in a more positive way.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Stop comparing yourself with others, and take time to reflect on and to note your own attractive traits. We are bombarded with hundreds of images, ads, and songs on a daily basis that describe how we should look, feel and act. Comparing yourself to those ideals is not a useful activity because they reflect the experiences of a select group of individuals. When you stop placing value on these comparisons, you might begin to develop a friendlier and more loving relationship with yourself.

Try also to silence your inner critic. We all have one, which brings us down or builds us up, depending on the situation. Keep track of the times and circumstances in which you find yourself criticizing your appearance, and try to replace those thoughts with positive ones. By becoming more aware of your negative thinking patterns and shutting down those criticisms, you could see yourself as a more capable and attractive individual.

Take a daily appreciation break. Set aside time each day to ask make a list of three things that you appreciate about yourself and your appearance. Write down your answers, and compare each day to give yourself a mental boost.

Loving yourself for who you are and what you look like is essential to living a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. While fashion, beauty, and your personal style are all tools which can help you feel more confident, be wary of becoming obsessed with looking perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist, and its pursuit often leads to feelings of insecurity and unhappiness, the opposite of our goal. A healthy level of attention and care for your appearance is beneficial though, and is a sign of healthy self-esteem.

This month, start your journey in self-acceptance, and take a moment to appreciate that you are a wonderful human being. Embrace the unique characteristics that make up who you are, and choose gorgeous outfits to enhance your special features. You are an individual, unlike any other. It’s time to accept it, embrace it and enjoy it.

Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.