When did you discover the importance of body confidence and positive body image?
For so long I didn’t realise that there was even such thing as body confidence or positive body image. For SO LONG, I truly thought that it was part of our lives as an identifying woman because it was so common within all the women around me that it just seemed like part of the “program”. When I was in second year of university, I started taking social justice classes to fill my timetable. I started learning about some of the systems that are put in place to make people feel self conscious about themselves in order to capitalise off these emotions. I started looking at my own journey, and started researching people in this movement towards better self confidence and body image. I was overwhelmed at first, because I truly couldn’t believe there was this much conversion over the topic. The more I dug into the topic, the more I dug into my own thoughts about my body image struggle and it started a whole movement for me.
My top 5 tips for boosting body confidence:
1. Recognise that any BODY at any SHAPE OR SIZE will have insecurities. These are not insecurities we are born with. These insecurities come from the messages that are engraved into our heads each and every day from the moment we are born. Recognising that there are industries created to make you feel like crap about yourself (beauty/health/fitness) automatically helps remind me that it isn’t a natural thought to have poor body image.
2. Self talk is so important in moments when we feel vulnerable. How we speak to ourselves when we are down is the basis of how we see ourselves everyday. When I’m feeling influenced by negative body talk, I remove myself (literally will go into a different room) and say nice things to myself. My mantra is; “these feelings are not mine. These insecurities aren’t mine. These doubts are not mine. This body is mine. I control my body and I control how I speak about it.”
3. Do something you love! For me, this is dancing! I put my music on and dance my thoughts away. I celebrate what my body can do, rather than keep letting the negative thoughts control my feelings. I do this when I am feeling good and when I am feeling not so good, as it helps grow my overall self love and confidence and keeps me on a growing continuum.
4. Step outside the comfort zone. I was lucky enough to move from Canada to Australia for a year. I realised that I had to accept that my chronic disease will be way more visible and that if I wanted to beach hop everyday, I was going to have to get used to wearing my bikini around without the constant worry of what my body looked like. I made a promise to myself that I would put my bikini on every single day, even if it was just in my bedroom. I would head to the beach each and everyday, and my worry’s towards my body became less and less every time. Soon, my body was the last thing I thought of when at the beach or taking photos! It was hard work, but we have to constantly work on something for it to become a norm.
5. Be kind to others, it will reflect within you! I started doing this thing a few years ago. I was working as a cashier at a healthy food store, and I made it my goal to compliment each customer one random day. I found that saying kind words to others made me feel them within myself as well. I continued practicing this throughout that week and realised how much happier the people around me were, but also how much happier I was! Now, I give compliments whenever I can. Even if you don’t think it has anything to do with something you see within yourself, you will find yourself feeling happier and kinder towards yourself as well! I promise you, this actually was something so life changing!
What do you do when you're having a bad body confidence day? Do you have a go-to routine to pull yourself out of the negative mindset?
Bad body confidence days used to hit me like a rock. I used to cry and feel guilty for not going to the gym. I would pull out Pinterest and Instagram, and start making a “plan”. I would get my calendar out and start meal prepping and creating a program. It was damaging because it was literally diet culture shoving it’s ideas down my throat, and yet I thought I was the one doing everything wrong! Now, I go back to my dancing. I drink some lemon water, and stay offline. I put my runners on and will go for a walk in nature, or go sit at a cafe and watch the people walking by. It is the easiest reminder that there are capable and beautiful bodies everywhere we look, in all shapes and sizes.
What do you love most about your body?
Currently LOVING on my ability to listen to what my body wants or needs. It’s like a new relationship between my body and I, and I love it so much. I love that my body can tell me it needs water, or needs insulin (for my Type 1 Diabetes). I love that it gives me subtle ques when it wants to sweat and it gives me the “tough love” when I need to slow down and rest (aka waking up feeling like a truck hit me!). As far as physical appearances, can I just say how obsessed I have become with my strong legs? Like, I used to ALWAYS get called “thunder thighs” and I hated them so much. The more I work out and lift heavy now, the more I honestly start to OBSESS over them. They represent so much power and strength and every time I check myself out, it is a reminder that I am resisting this diet culture each and every day!
My go-to follows on Instagram for body diversity and body image are:
When do you feel that you are your most confident self?
My most confident self is when I chasing my goals and focusing on myself. I am an independent person, and when I feel like my environment is allowing me to thrive in that condition, my confidence grows. It doesn’t “look” a certain way and it doesn’t consist of anything specific. But when my business is blooming, and my relationships are strong, and when I am reaching goals and making connections that I worked for on my own, that’s when I feel like “HELLL YESSSS!!!! I GOT THISSSS!”
What's your favourite quote/mantra?
Currently, my go to mantra is “YOU GOT THIS”. I am in a really amazing transitional period of my life, and I am doing a lot of things I’ve never done before. I also use the F word a lot, but like in a good way like “F***.... OK ITS DONE. NEXT”. Yeah... the F word fires me up. It’s deemed as so unladylike, and that is literally what I strive for in life currently!
My journey to self love and body confidence didn’t happen overnight. It was a lot of different phases and emotions. It was trial and errors and really raw moments. It was losing friends, and gaining life experiences. It’s mornings, days and nights! But its worth it. And my hopes are that in the near future we will see a huge movement towards more HUMANS loving themselves and their bodies for what they can do for us!!”
Find Erika Arff on Instagram: @erikaarff
Erika is wearing our Mobile Maia Crop & Lively Lilly Leggings in the feature image. Shop now