Loving your body is a hard thing to do in a world that constantly tells you your body isn’t good enough. Marginalized people navigate an environment that essentially requires us to feel bad about the way we look. Finding ways to avoid internalizing those messages can be key to not just surviving, but thriving, in a patriarchal world hellbent on keeping us down. Feeling better about the body you’re in can help you feel better about life in general.

Glamour found that cisgender women have an average of 13 negative thoughts about their bodies every day. That’s one for almost every hour they’re awake! Another recent study from Common Sense Media found that 80 percent of 10-year-old girls had been on a diet. And although these numbers are horrifying, they’re not exactly shocking. They’re the expected result of living in a world where entire magazines are dedicated to providing weight-loss tips and every cover story touts the beauty of thinness.

And while feminism is a great way to understand and undo the oppressive messages that many of us internalize, it’s not a magic bullet to instantly feeling great about your body. You can understand the harmful messages and still be affected by them.In fact, it’s almost impossible not to be. Actively working to love your body can take a lifetime, but there are steps you can take to start the journey today.

1. Throw Out Your Scale

Beauty (and health) come at every size. When there’s a scale in your bathroom, stepping on it every morning can become a way to measure your worth. Your value isn’t numerical and you are more than just a number. Measure your beauty based on how you feel instead of what you weigh. Getting rid of your scale can help you from becoming fixated on the number it shows you.

2. Have A Solo Dance Party

Dancing is a great way to boost your self-image and your mood. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that girls who took dance classes reported improvements in their mental health and their mood compared with girls who didn’t. When you let go of your inhibitions and just let your body go, you don’t have to think about anything else. It’s a way of being in your body and doing something joyful with it instead of hating it.

3. Take Selfies

Selfies aren’t just about showing the world your photo. They’re also a way to craft your own self-image. Taking photos of yourself, by yourself, and for yourself can help you love yourself more. Putting images of yourself out into the world in the body that you have is a radical act of empowerment in a world that constantly tells us that our bodies aren’t good enough. There’s a whole body positive movement happening on Instagram that you can tap into, too, so you don’t have to go it alone.

4. Wear Undergarments That Fit You

When your underwear and bras fit like a glove, you might find that you feel like you fit better in your skin, too. Screw too-tight bras, underwear that rides up your crack, and torturous shapewear. Slip into something a little (or a lot) more comfortable.

5. Or Wear Some Sexy Underthings

When you’re wearing sexy lingerie, it just might make you feel better about your body. Even if it’s just your little secret, it’s a fun secret to have.

6. Focus On The Things Your Body Can Do

Can your body get you from Point A to Point B? Can it orgasm? Can it rock a maxi dress like nobody’s business? Instead of focusing on the things your body isn’t, try thinking about the things that it is. There has to be at least one thing that you like about your body, or that your body can do for you.

7. Stop Comparing Your Body To Other People’s

You will never look like anyone but you. The people in the magazines have bodies that are unattainable and unrealistic, so striving to look like them is futile. Instead, focus on looking like the best version of yourself. Accepting yourself for who you are and what you look like can go a long way to increasing your overall happiness and satisfaction.

8. Claim Agency Over Your Body

Your body belongs to you, and no one else. But when you navigate the world in a marginalized body, it can often feel like you’re constantly up for public comment or consumption. Do something that reminds you that your body is your own. For me, that means bright hair colors and bold fashion statements. For you, it could mean something else entirely.

9. Masturbate

When you are actively giving your body pleasure, you are literally loving it. When you treat your body like it is worthy of love and pleasure, you start to truly believe it.

Images: Courtesy of afunkydamsel/Flickr; Giphy (9)