The body positivity movement has been slowly growing over the past few years and has now well and truly reached the mainstream. However, as much as you might want to, it’s hard to maintain this acceptance of yourself and your body all year long.
And, with the pressure to "look your best" for Christmas party season coupled with a never-ending supply of chocolates and mince pies at work, staying body positive over the festive period can be a particular challenge.
Even if your grandma isn’t quite up to speed with the #EveryBodyIsBeautiful hashtag on Instagram and makes some poorly judged comments over Christmas lunch, try not to let it get you down. This should be a happy time – so here’s how you can stay as body positive as possible over the festive period.
Try not to obsess over the perfect party outfit
Party season comes with a whole host of stresses, one of the greatest being figuring out what to wear.
Liam Preston, head of YMCA’s Be Real Campaign, has this advice: "Like Christmas trees, bodies come in all shapes and sizes. So throw on something sparkly, add a little tinsel and live your best life."
For your general mental health and well being, also remember it’s OK to say no to events. There are so many parties and dinners over the festive period, sometimes it’s totally legitimate to ditch your social plans and have an evening of self-care.
Be a bit kinder to yourself
This is probably the hardest thing on the list to do, and, unfortunately, there’s no checklist you can easily follow. However, when you have low moments over the festive season, make an effort to be kinder to yourself – chances are you’re being way more self-critical than you need to be.
Take a moment to appreciate your body, rather than judging it. Christmas is meant to be a happy time of year – it’s easier said than done, but try not to let anything get in the way of that.
Do a social media purge
When you’re scrolling through Instagram, take notice of which accounts bring you joy and which make you feel bad about yourself. If anyone on your feed falls into the latter category, do yourself a favour and hit the unfollow button.
For your own Instagramming, Preston says: "Don’t worry about capturing yourself from the ‘perfect’ angle when taking pictures, but focus instead on capturing the moment and spirit of Christmas."
Once that’s out the way, you can get down to the fun business of following some body-positive accounts. We recommend model and activist Sonny Turner (not only is she empowering, but she’s a total delight), Eff Your Beauty Standards (founded by model Tess Holliday) and I Weigh founder, Jameela Jamil.
Take this mentality into all areas of your life – don’t read that fat shaming article online. And even if your grandma doesn’t mean ill, there’s no need for that kind of negativity in your life so try not to engage with that conversation.
Get rid of your scales
Many of us are hyper-aware of eating and drinking more than we normally would during the festive period. As such, this can cause an almost compulsive need to check your weight. We don’t advocate using scales any time of the year, and recognise it’s easy to get sucked into an obsession with them – particularly during December.
Scales can be so damaging to your mental health and pushes an idea that you are worth a number in kilograms. Spoiler alert: your weight is not your worth. Try appreciating your body for what it does, rather than judging it for how much it weighs.
Not only this, but there’s no need to feel guilty for overindulging at Christmas. What else are the holidays for?
Write a gratitude list
Preston describes this as a "Christmas list with a twist." He says: "Instead of writing a letter to Father Christmas asking for gifts, make yourself a list of all the things you’re grateful for, including the great things your body has done for you."
Maybe you don’t quite love how you look in a photo from the Christmas party, but before you go into a shame spiral, take a look at your list and hopefully, you’ll feel a sense of gratitude for your body and what it’s been through this year.