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All About The Bass! 7 Amazing Things Happen When You Stop Worrying About Body Size

All About The Bass! 7 Amazing Things Happen When You Stop Worrying About Body Size

I am woman, therefore I complain about my body. It’s innate. It’s a genetic predisposition. It started in middle school, when shit got real. It got worse in high school because that’s when my body began to change. That’s also when boys became interested in bodies that belonged to Victoria’s Secret models, or Sports Illustrated models, or girls without names in calendars or posters or magazines.

To be fair, they were interested in my body, but mainly because my body was realistically within their reach. At least more than, say, one of Victoria’s girls. College was no better, especially living in Southern California. The girls at my college were STUNNING. And skinny. I was thin because I worked my ass off running several miles a day, hitting the gym several times a week, and eating so little I developed an eating disorder. All this because I wanted (needed) to look the way society said I should look in a bikini.

I was killing myself in the process. Mentally, emotionally and physically. It affected my relationship before and after I got married. It got so bad, I was scared to get pregnant because I knew I’d get fat.

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But then something happened. Years later, myself and my two children were diagnosed with serious heart conditions and I was forced to give up control. My body size was the least of my concerns. I was busy worrying about keeping myself and my two children alive. Ironically, it gave me incredible freedom. This is what happens when you finally stop worrying about your body size and start to live your life.

1. You stop comparing yourself to others.

When you’re not obsessed with the size of your body, you won’t compare yours to other bodies. Often, body size is only the beginning. We compete with others when it comes to looks, wallets and assets. We forget about inner beauty and life happiness. The minute you stop comparing yourself to others, you begin to enjoy people for who they are, not what they look like or what they have. It’s not easy to do, but worth it in the long run. No one was meant to be the same.

2. You allow yourself to experience more by giving up control.

Once you give up the control, you’re free. You’re able to experience things you’ve never allowed yourself to do in the past. You’re no longer a slave to the scale; you’re no longer identified by a number (weight, BMI, body fat). You’re free to eat the dessert, stay in bed all day, or play with the kids instead of counting calories, dieting and hitting the gym. Spontaneity is doable when you relax and allow yourself to live.

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3. You learn to look beyond the mirror.

You have so much more to offer this world besides what you see (or don’t see) in the mirror. Once you figure out the important stuff in life, you realize people are important for who they are, not what they look like. That includes you. None of your dreams, hopes or goals should be stifled by your body size. Unless you have a magic mirror that shows your inner beauty, stop judging yourself solely by what you see in the mirror.

4. You change your relationship status.

When you forget about an ideal body size, you immediately have a new relationship with food. It’s no longer the enemy. It’s okay to sample that molten chocolate lava cake because you no longer need to restrict yourself. You don’t need to punish yourself for eating something “bad” because nothing is taboo anymore. Once you free yourself of the food/hate/body size trap, there’s no more guilt or self-hate. You learn to love yourself, no matter what your body size.

Before anyone else, you’re in a relationship with yourself. Make it a good one. Make it a healthy one.

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5. You won’t be afraid to wear clothes (or not wear them).

Once you forget about your body size, clothes won’t scare you. Go ahead and wear that dress. Get out your bathing suit. Put on those dance shoes. Better yet, get *cough* naked. Sex is better when you’re not freaking out about your body or being embarrassed by it. Let go and enjoy. Turn the damn lights ON. It’s likely your partner is happy with your body, with clothes and without.

6. Your partner will thank you.

He or she has been waiting for you. The real you. Someone to eat with, laugh with, play with, and enjoy life with. Someone to touch who doesn’t recoil from worry or embarrassment. Someone who doesn’t try to control them, what they do or don’t do, what they eat, drink, etc. Someone who doesn’t spend all day hating herself or asking, “Does this make me look fat?” because we all know that’s a loaded question. Someone who can look at a magazine picture and not be fazed by a good-looking, highly photoshopped model, because she knows she is beautiful, too.

 7. You learn what’s really important in life.

Here’s a hint: it’s not how big your body is; it’s how big YOUR LIFE is.

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I have a heart condition. It’s serious. I also live in Southern California, which means I’m at the beach. A lot. What do these have to do with each other? Nothing, except how I look in my bathing suit is no longer my priority. The fact that I’m alive and well and able to get in the ocean or get on that surfboard with my child is now more important than my appearance. Trust me, some days I feel too big to be in my bikini. Other days, I couldn’t care less. Those are the good days. It’s still a battle, but for the most part, I’m free.

I’m beautiful.

So is a Victoria’s Secret model, and that’s okay.

Featured photo credit: rooftop pool/Whatsername? via flickr.com

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Missy Mitchell

Author, Artist, Advocate

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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