We all know what it feels like to catch a glimpse of our naked bodies in the mirror. Yikes! No matter how skinny, toned or voluptuous we might be, there’s always something we’re unhappy with. So we turned to experts Randy Paterson, a Vancouver psychologist, and Josey Vogels, a Toronto-based sex expert and author of Bedside Manners (HarperCollins Canada), to help us come to grips with our body confidence issues. Read on for their tips to loving your body – or at least most of it – in no time.
Ever used hatred as a form of motivation? Such as saying to yourself, If I detest my love handles enough, I’ll start a diet or go to the gym? Never works, does it? That’s because we’re more likely to do something good for ourselves if we actually like our bodies, says Paterson. So instead of focusing on the areas you dislike, try to concentrate on the parts you’re proud of – like your broad shoulders or great calves – and slowly work up to accepting the areas you’re not so fond of.
Give yourself a massage
Grab your favourite scented oil, find some alone time and get rubbing. Not only will self-massage show you the ins and outs of your body’s shape, but it can also help you embrace those parts you’re not as keen on, says Vogels. “Make peace with your entire body by treating it nicely to counter any negative feelings,” she says.
Be a voyeur
Sit or stand naked in front of a full-length mirror for 15 to 30 minutes. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth, inflating your diaphragm. Concentrate on your least favourite body parts and try to bring your mind to an even non-judgmental state, says Paterson. Instead of fixating on your “flabby stomach,” focus on the wonderful children it enveloped. Once you feel relaxed, embrace your body as a whole, saying: “my stomach,” “my neck,” “my mastectomy scar”,loving each part that makes up who you are.
Splurge on expensive lingerie, suggests Vogels. But buy it from a store where employees know their stuff. They’ll be able to put you in something that fits perfectly, making you feel sexy and confident, she says.
Redecorate your bedroom
Painting walls a shade of pink can make any skin tone look better. “Pink bedroom walls cast a blushing glow that gives everyone’s skin a kissable hue,” says Chatelaine associate home editor, Stacey Smithers. Want to add even more romance and and sensuality? Replace regular bulbs with frosted pink versions or light a few candles. Not only will the soft lights help hide flaws, but they can also help you to feel more confident. (Perfect for Valentine’s Day!)
Learn to strip
Round up a girlfriend or two and join a striptease class. “Not only will it help you get fit,” says Vogels, “but strippers know how to make the most of their bodies and move in ways that make them feel and look sexy.” Just learning a few moves can help instill confidence and possibly unleash your inner sex goddess.
Never had a bikini wax? It’s time to try one, says Vogels. “There’s no need to go completely bald, but don’t be too modest, either.” You’ll be surprised at how sexy it can make you feel. Plus, you’ll remove that fear of any little strays sticking out at an inopportune time.
Lower your standards
We’re all guilty of it – checking out another woman to see which areas of her body we wish we could have. Problem is, we set different standards for others than we do for ourselves, says Paterson. The result: we end up feeling inferior. So it’s time to face reality and judge ourselves in the same way that we judge others – realistically.
Hire a stylist
All right, so this option is a bit pricey, but it’s definitely worth it, says Vogels. A stylist, whether she works with you for half a day or a week, can show you exactly which outfits will best suit your body. Consider it your own What Not to Wear consultation, minus the cameras and criticism. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel wearing an outfit that really fits. Instead of walking with your eyes down and shoulders slumped, you’ll be standing up straight, turning other people’s heads.
Pose nude for a local art class. “Why?” you scream in horror? First, you’ll make a few extra bucks. And second, it’ll help you to conquer any fears of being seen in the buff. For once, you’ll be able to see your body objectively – through the eyes of others who are viewing it as a piece of art, appreciating your natural beauty. If they think you’re worthy enough to