Battle plans against the body and mind


By Layla Nathan, First Year Classics

The Croft Magazine // The way we feel about ourselves can have a real impact on our daily lives. The journey towards body confidence and self-love is personal, it takes time and is sometimes difficult.

Before we start, there are two philosophies which are important to this journey. Luckily, they can both be summed up in trite phrases, easily printed over an image of a forest or a peaceful lake and hung up on an A-level Philosophy classroom wall.

The first is as follows; the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, the second-best time is today. Self-image is hard to change; it’s essentially waging a war against that voice in your head that asks you why you exist in the same reality as Victoria’s Secret models. It’s not an easy journey but as always, the first step is the hardest.

The realisation that change is needed came to me when I was about 14 or 15, I noticed that every time I looked in a mirror, I automatically thought negative thoughts. You look fat in that, your hair is terrible, why are you so ugly? The first step is recognising that you want that voice to shut the fuck up. The second philosophy is the most important to remember and vital to the method I used to learn to love myself. Fake it until you make it.

After noticing that I was essentially bullying myself every time I saw a mirror, I started fighting back. I had a plan, every time I thought something nasty about the way I looked, I would say two compliments. It usually went a little like this. “Wtf u look terrible” “but your lipstick is a lovely shade and your eyelashes look good today”.

Jewellery can be a helpful distraction from insecurities | Epigram / Layla Nathan 

As you can tell, this method involves talking to yourself a little, but the idea is you are trying to change your own mind, this means a little persuasion. The compliments are easier to start small when they are related to things you can control like your make up or clothes, it’s less daunting than actually trying to love your body from the starting line.

I personally found jewellery very helpful, but that may just be my magpie tendencies. I’m not thinking about why my boobs are so tiny when there’s a shiny gold thing on my neck. I may have a massive spot, but I’m distracted by my sparkly earrings. And if you really think about it, you know you deserve to be adorned with pretty things.

But Layla, that’s just focusing on the wrong things! I don’t love myself more, I’m just iced out now! An understandable objection dear reader, but you may notice that now when you look in a mirror your first thought is a compliment rather than a Regina George style bitch fest in your mind. After faking it, this is the making it bit. The more you habitually compliment yourself; you start to unconsciously do so. Your inner subconscious bully has been defeated, let’s move on to the conscious one.

I found it very hard in the past to even think about my body or my face for an extended amount of time. I said something nice in the mirror but that doesn’t mean I wanted to linger, for that led to doubts, second guesses and the return of my internal narrative in which I was the most undesirable woman on earth.

The way to get out of this involved a lot of thought to myself and this was undoubtedly the hardest part. I was first spurred onto this line of thought by my mother. She was telling me how much she hates her nose. Until that point, I had never even considered that my mother was anything but beautiful.

I know that whenever I complimented someone, I was always being sincere and so I was forced to change into the perspective that I am beautiful

Then I noticed everyone in my life listing the things they would change. Friends who were curvy wanted to be thin, my thin friends wanted more curves. My friends with great teeth, lips, noses and eyebrows all wanted to wipe their features and change everything. I had been so caught up in hating myself that I didn't see everyone else doing it. I had been so busy looking at my face with a critical eye I missed the fact that in doing so I was comparing myself to the people around me, and when I looked at the people around me I wouldn't change a single thing about any of them. And I know they wouldn’t want me to change either.

So, convincing myself that I should be confident in my body, in my face and that I should have self-esteem led to this thought. If I were to believe that I am all the worst things I ever told myself that I am, I would have to believe that every single instance someone complimented me they were lying to my face. I would have to believe my friends, my mother, my father and everyone else that I loved and trusted in my life were untruthful every time they said something nice about me.

And in reverse, I know that whenever I complimented someone, I was always being sincere and so I was forced to change into the perspective that I am beautiful. That reasoning is how I learned to love myself.

Comparison is the enemy of happiness

One thing I hope you can take away from this, even if this method doesn’t pan out for you, is compliment people as much as possible. Because that might just be what convinces them to be confident even for a few moments and for people who struggle with their image, it means a lot.

Of course, there are moments of doubt, and wavering and general bad mental health days. Especially after going on Instagram and comparing myself and my life to everyone's perfection. But comparison is the enemy of happiness. As always, the first step is recognising, then thinking about what I can do to change in this moment, then fake it until you make it. Post a thirst trap.

Here is around where I should put a disclaimer; this is just my journey; it may not work for you. But this is about confidence and speaking what you want into existence, so I’ll start for you. It will work, you can love yourself, you deserve to love yourself, you are beautiful. And if you’re thinking to yourself “no I’m not” come and find me and call me a liar to my face.

Featured image: Unsplash / Tyler Nix

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