This stuff applies to everyone who has ever had a negative thought about their bodies; I am just writing from the perspective of having been an overweight female for over half of my life because we're the ones who are most openly and constantly told we don't look good as we are and should feel bad about it.
1- Cut the crap. You are what you eat; so if you want to start feeling good about yourself, you need to stop eating junk food. Fats and oils bog you down. Sugar makes you crash. Salt makes you bloat. Feeling bad physically easily translates to negative emotions, and let's be honest here: you're probably eating junk according to your feelings to begin with. When you have pure, healthy, and wonderful foods running through your body, you feel pure, healthy, and wonderful yourself. I know because I've made the switch. If you need more convincing, start paying attention to how you feel (both physically and emotionally) before, while, and after you eat something. When I eat junk the cycle usually goes like this: feeling bad, lazy, or bored; eat some junk and feel good while its going down (I think the act of eating releases endorphins or something similar); feel gross and guilty; eat more junk; rinse and repeat. So positive, right? The cycle should be this: feel hungry; eat healthy snack; feel satisfied.
2- Move. If you sit around all day like a lump, you will feel like a lump. You don't have to run a marathon. You don't even have to jog a mile. Just get up and move your body around. Take a walk. Walking is easy and enjoyable. You can walk around a park, a city, a mall--I'm not picky. Well, I'd prefer you didn't walk around a mall, but I'll save my anti-consumerist rant for another day. One of the reasons people who are overweight or obese feel so bad is that we are blamed for it. We're only fat because we're lazy, right? Well you can't be accused of being lazy if you're not, so get off your butt. Leading and active and healthy life will help you feel better about your body because you'll start to focus on what it can do rather than what it looks like and you'll begin to realize that any fat you do have on your body isn't solely there because of the sedentary lifestyle you no longer live. Genetics plays a huge and uncontrollable role in body type, and size is almost completely irrelevant to health.
3- Lose five pounds. I don't care if your doctor says you have to lose 20, 50, or 100 pounds to reach a healthy weight. Setting huge goals like that without smaller goals along the way will just discourage you from even trying because it seems so impossible. Five pounds are easily dropped in two to four weeks, especially if you make the above changes, and a five pound weight loss feels phenomenal if you let it. Clothes that fit before will be a little looser, and you'll be able to squeeze into things that were just a little too tight before. Hitting a smaller goal like that will encourage you to stick with the lifestyle changes you've made and maybe even push a little harder. The important thing is, though, that you don't put the focus on losing weight. This can lead to eating disorders or just general negative feelings because if and when you don't meet your weight loss goals, you will get discouraged. Instead focus on how much easier it is to walk up that hill from last week and how good it feels to be a little bit sore the next day. Focus on how you feel, not how you look. When you feel good, you look better automatically.
4- Turn off the TV. Not only does watching TV mean long hours of sitting still, it means exposure to a world in which everyone is tiny unless its a plot device that they're not. The only media I've seen lately that fights that is the Fit for Me Fruit of the Loom commercial that depicts women who have fat as sexy, beautiful, and desirable without question. Even the Disney Channel, which is supposed to be full of role models for young girls, had me feeling bad after a few too many episodes of Jonas LA because the main character is very small with very prominent collar bones. Not since That's So Raven has the Disney channel had a star who didn't fall into the category of skinny white girl (yes, I know Selena Gomez is half latin and Brenda Song is Asian, but their body types are still the same). Every other network is just as bad. ABC Family has Huge, but fat is still just a plot device on that show. Constant exposure to a world that is 95% skinny white girls, 4% skinny racially abiguous girls, and 1% girls whose fat is a plot device will make you feel othered. It is really really hard to fight a message that subtle unless you just avoid it all together or seriously limit your exposure.
5- Change the way you think about fat. I've posted about this before, but I realized last night that fat is a thing you can have, not a thing you can be. Do not ever say, "I am fat." Say instead, "I have fat." Because everybody has fat, saying that you have it is not so othering. Thinking of is this way will help you remove some of the negative connotations of the word. Fat is not and should not be a part of your identity, so saying you are fat is just a little bit ridiculous. Having fat does not make you lazy. It does not make you ugly. It does not make you undesireable. You may think no one could ever be attracted to you, but chances are you've just blinded yourself to the signs. That boy I hooked up with? Apparently we both had huge crushes on each other in high school but I was too concerned with being a dyke to realize I liked him and too entrenched in hating my body to think he could possibly like me. But he did. And he was still attracted to me four years later and two sizes bigger. And maybe you haven't been as lucky yet to be openly persued (even if it was just the one time), but consider the number of people you've been attracted to and never done anything about. I'm betting there has been someone who found you attractive, beautiful, kinda cute, but people don't just walk up to strangers on the street to tell them they think they look good. Maybe they should.
I'm not a doctor or any kind of official expert, but I know this stuff works. I've been reminded by doctors, family, friends, and boys on the bus--kindly and not so kindly--that I am overweight since I was nine years old. I've been told I was fat and therefore not good enough for more than half my life. That's a huge amount of baggage weighing me down (pun not originally intended but totally supported). But in just the last three months I've started making these changes and I have never been more in love with my body or my self. I just feel good all the time. Well, most of the time. But its still a huge (oh my god, I love puns) improvement over the hatred I used to feel for myself and almost everybody else. None of us can be perfectly in love with our bodies all the time, but I hope we can all start to feel as good as I've felt recently. And if we stop letting the media and anonymous assholes on the internet tell us how we should feel, I think we can make it happen. Be positive, y'all!
I can't believe I just said y'all. Ok, I can. But don't hold it against me. :)