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How do you learn to love your body?

Over 11 million - that's how many digits are now on Instagram under the term #bodypositive. The social media hype has become a worldwide trend that has changed the way we think. But in order to understand body positivity and at best to live ourselves, we need to look behind the cloak of beauty: What is actually beautiful? Why do we find something beautiful? And how do we learn to love ourselves?

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Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

What you find beautiful is up to you. Is that really true? Sure, we develop certain preferences over time - be it for women, men, puppies or interior design. But how can we decide for ourselves what we find beautiful and yet all of us pine after the same actors, musicians or even dog breeds? Quite simply: We are not that self-determined when it comes to beauty.

What you find beautiful is shaped by three different pillars: your reproductive instinct, your environment and your culture!

Even if you are not even hypothetically thinking about having children, your subconscious does. It will always find people more attractive who radiate strength and health. Because only they seem "powerful" enough to start a family. Even if this almost Stone Age world view is no longer the main focus when looking for a partner, it still decides who we find more attractive.

Another factor: your environment. In this case, it's all the influences that come your way every day - be it through social media, television, YouTube or posters. They all paint a certain, supposedly perfect picture to appeal to as many people as possible. And this is more often achieved by using standard measurements that many people would find beautiful. You encounter this particularly often in advertising, because here companies have one goal: They only want to associate their products with healthy and successful advertising faces. Only recently, since the Body Positivity Movement, has this image changed.

Your culture is almost the most important factor in feeling beautiful. Because the image of beauty usually unites an entire cultural circle. Even if it changes over the centuries, it always follows a pattern: We find beauty in what we cannot have.

How beautiful is the world?

The fact that we follow the beauty ideal of our culture, at least in part, is shown by the current trends in the individual countries and continents:

In Europe, people who are generally perceived as beautiful tend to be slim, sporty and fair-skinned. After all, those who have their body under control in an affluent society can only be disciplined and successful - the two supposedly most desirable characteristics of Europeans.

In Asian countries in particular, large eyes are again considered beautiful. The eye shape, which is not naturally innate here, stands for innocence and kindness. Women in particular still have the non-existent eyelid crease repositioned by surgery to make the eyes look larger.

In many parts of Africa lush curves are desirable. In the mostly very poor and traditional countries, opulent women mean wealth and prosperity - because curves also indicate sufficient money for good nutrition. Here it is mainly women who strive for this ideal.

In the American region, the media influence the ideas of the perfect body. Here, women should rather be curvy, men defined. Cosmetic surgery is not only widespread in North America but also in South America to remove supposed blemishes.

Worthy of concern Fun Fact for you:

If you google which beauty ideals apply worldwide, you will almost exclusively find articles that focus on the beauty of women. Men, at least on the net, don't seem to have to submit so much to these ideals.

Why is Body Positivity so difficult?

If the perception of beauty is so complex and varies from country to country, why is it not easy to find yourself beautiful? Inside we know that there are an infinite number of different people in the world. We meet them every day and we would (hopefully) never think that a person is not beautiful. A little flaw? Oh, that's what makes the person likeable in the first place. But why do so many people find it difficult to see themselves as relaxed and individual?

Even though we know that no person has to or can be perfect, we constantly compare ourselves. And we don't do that with the woman standing next to us in the bus or in front of us at the cash register. No, we compare ourselves with Kendall, Angelina and all the others. Why? Because we see them more often than with the woman at the checkout counter. Two to five thousand times a week we are confronted with digitally manipulated bodies on the net, on walls, screens and magazines. We cannot always remember that hardly a pixel of them is real. And articles like "Weight Shock! These stars have no beach figure" or "Top or Flop - who looks better in this outfit?" don't make it better either. Media keep comparing, even creating an artificial image of a perfect woman: "The waist circumference should be three quarters of the bust circumference. The hip circumference should be one third larger than the waist. The mathematically perfect woman is also 5'8".

How can I love myself?

A study by Nivea shows that women are completely unsettled by so much beauty. The results were shocking: 9 out of 10 women forgo food or put their health at risk if they do not find themselves beautiful. Just as many refrain from leisure activities if they do not feel comfortable in their skin. The numbers sound incredible, but almost every woman knows exactly these thoughts.

So what do you do for more body positivity? It's clear that you can't close your eyes to beautiful advertising and supposedly perfect bodies. The socially beautiful ones will be with you all your life. But you can make yourself less vulnerable by devoting yourself to your body. This is where self-acceptance comes before self-optimization.

1: Care for your body

Body Positivity only begins when you do not see your body as a malleable something that you can always push to its limits. Become aware that a body needs care in order to serve you well for a long time. Take time out again and again in which you only take care of yourself.

2: Listen to your body

A healthy body tells you quickly what it needs. You want chocolate? Then eat it, and don't force yourself so you won't gain 100 grams. With a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, your body will quickly tell you what it needs to be happy. A little feel-good tip: lie down comfortably on a mat, the couch or the bed, turn everything off and listen to your body. Listen how the blood flows through your veins, your heart beats and your breath moves your chest. You can hardly be with yourself more.

3: Cherish your body for its achievements

Your body makes your heart beat 100,000 times a day. You can run to the tram, carry heavy bags and walk through life on both feet every day. That your body can do that is a miracle! Be aware of that. You don't have to constantly think about the fact that other people might not be so lucky. Just be happy that you have such a great body, which can only achieve great things if you treat it well.

4: Forget numbers

Treating well also means that you eat enough. Because diets, one-sided eating or too little food will make your body weak and unhealthy. It is best to banish your scales and listen only to your body feeling. The numbers don't say anything about how much your weight suits you anyway. Kilos vary from person to person and are not only made up of fat but also of muscles.

5: Do not compare yourself

The most important and probably most difficult tip: Stop competing with others. Not only visually, but also internally. What you see every day of people you find slimmer, smarter or funnier than yourself is only a very small part of their personality. They too are sometimes sad or have their package to carry. Stay with yourself and listen to yourself. That way you will also reach your goals in life more easily - because you don't run after anyone, but go your own way!

written by Julia Burghardt

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Body Positivity Model Elva Vintage

Elva is a plus-size instagram model. She presents herself confident and proud, although she does not have the so-called "perfect body measurements". Check out what Elva says about the Body Positivity movement in this interview.

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