The new year symbolizes a fresh start, a chance to shrug off last year's bad choices. But it also rings in prime season for diet culture. Almost as soon as that clock strikes midnight we're inundated with weight loss ads, gym promotion, "fitspo" and a sea of before-and-after pictures, all there to remind us that our bodies are gross and this will be the year that we change them.
January is pretty much designed to make us feel bad.
But what if 2018 is the year where we stop letting it? What if January didn't mean punishing ourselves for our holiday indulgences and beating ourselves up with target weights and body goals? What if we took our New Year New Me impulses for self-improvement and channeled it elsewhere?
Let's leave diet culture in 2017 and spend the new year learning to be nice to our bodies. Self-love and body acceptance can be a long road, but here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK
Seeing lots of skinny tea ads? Block 'em. Lots of friends or influencers posting gym selfies and diet tips? Smash that unfollow button (at least for now). Cleanse your social media of anything that says (overtly or otherwise) that your body is bad. It's surprisingly liberating.
Next, fill that sparkly clean feed with some new content: Find body positive (bopo) accounts, fat-positive fashion bloggers and illustrators whose drawings look like you. Instead of workout and weight loss tips you'll find self-love and self-care ideas, ways to be nice to your body when you're not feeling particularly inclined and big, beautiful babes living their best lives.
Now that you've set the stage and filled your feed with affirming content, it's time for you to fulfill your end of the bargain. In 2018 it's time to start being nice to yourself. Once you've looked through some of these bopo and fat-posi accounts you'll realize that a lot of them use affirmations or small mantras, and sometimes these simple words can hold the most power. "My body is nice" or "fat is not a failure" (full disclosure: That's one of mine). While these seem basic, they also counteract pretty much everything you've ever been taught about bodies, beauty and success. They're small but mighty.
Take these kinds of affirmations and put them to use. When you look in the mirror and see something you don't like, say something nice about it. "My cellulite is cute," "my belly is soft and nice," "my thighs are big and strong"—say these things to yourself even if you don't believe them. You may have to fake it 'til you make it, but eventually this bopo training pays off and you start to believe those nice things. Showing yourself kindness in the face of your perceived flaws can go a long way.
REMEMBER: YOUR BODY IS NOT A MEASURE
It's great to be proud of the things your body can do, but it's important to remember that your body image is not linked to your success. You don't have to be thin to be successful; all the amazing things you accomplish are just as amazing if you're fat (and sometimes even more so because you have to put up with more nonsense).
Fat is not a failure: Fat is nice. Soft is nice. Big, lumpy, stripey, hairy—it's all nice.
So move away from weight-specific New Year's resolutions, because there's so many other ways to succeed. Your body deserves love at every size and you don't have to change it to learn to love it. So in 2018 eat the pizza, be nice to your squishy parts, get off the scale and stop thinking of yourself as a before picture. Your body is great, it's just time to teach yourself to believe it.