5 steps to start your Self Love Journey

Starting your self love journey, body positive social media, Boudoir, Calgary Photographer, Artist Shannon Smith, Empowerment, Portrait Photography, Fine Nude Art, Body Positive Boudoir

I often get asked how to start your journey when you haven’t even started it yet. What are those first (sometimes scary) steps that you take when you’re wanting to step out of the body-hate cycle. This is what I am going to address in this blog, however I want you to keep in mind that the self-love journey is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, sometimes you are high, then you go flying down, and sometimes you’re in this middle ground. That’s life, it has ups and down and our body image will go with that flow (because newsflash if you don’t know, your body image has NOTHING to do with your body, but in fact everything else in your life).

Let’s walk through some of the steps that I truly believe in that will help you start the change you are looking for.

1. Finding a Safe Space. Because the journey of loving yourself is often so damn radical to the societal norms, I suggest finding a safe place that you can be open, ask questions, and feel safe to explore your journey in. This could involve a mentor or coach 1:1, an online community (plug, I have a group for that!). Maybe your safe place is a physical space where you can take time to be introspective and self-aware like a yoga studio. Wherever it is, hun find that space! Allow your conditioned thoughts to be challenged (in a healthy way), and take on challenges. Allow yourself to be pushed and level up.

2. Getting Body Neutral. When we are learning to love our bodies, the first step is being neutral to our body. 2nd step is acceptance. 3rd comes love. And they may not be a straight path, and quite frankly you will jump from all of these on any given day, week, month or year.
Being neutral to your body is reminding yourself that your body is just that, just a body, that is is not a representation of your character, your goals, your values, your achievements. Your body is only a shell that allows you to stay alive and do movements. Pretty amazing really that it does whatever it needs to without us even thinking about it to keep us alive. In this we also need to watch the language we use (your brain is always listening and will feed of that shit you tell yourself). Shutting down that inner critic, using those self deprecating comments, shrinking yourself, and dimming yours shine is not something you’d allow your friends to do, so don’t do it either. The more you recognize you are doing this, your self awareness will increase and you will work on replacing the words you are using. Your body hate/negativity/dislike is a reflection of what you have been (wrongly) taught, and what is going on in your life. Did your partner piss you off? Did your boss jump down your throat? Did you miss that homework assignment deadline? Have you been unwell/sick lately? All of these will reflect onto your body as it’s the tangible aspect you have in front of you, you can’t reach these other feelings and circumstances. This is a great opportunity to recognize that your body is just a body. Imperfect like all bodies, but still perfect. It’s FLAWSOME!

3. Get Out of Isolation. Isolation breathes depression, loneliness, emptiness. Your human nature requires you to belong, connect, love, be visible, belong. So get out there, find that safe place, go meet new people, go for a walk, go to community events, go to private events (I host those!). It’s important for you to be around like-minded people who will feed your soul with good energy. If you don’t know your own interests and hobbies, there’s nothing wrong with going out there and trying new things, explore babe! And if you don’t like it well then don’t do it again, simple as that. If you like it but weren’t good at it, that’s not failure, means you just need to go practice or try more. You got this!

4. Curate Social Media. With as much time as we spend on social media it’s really important that your feeds are breathing life into you and not taking away. This can be removing friends in your life that when you come up simply give you that squidgy feeling in your soul. Follow people and role models that you appreciate. Have your feed full of diversity - various body shapes, sizes, skin colours, lifestyles. The more you SEE that these are okay, the more you will feel okay. We as activists take our job insanely important, and we who are true to the cause will be sure to show that continually.

Check out my colleague & amazing Arizona Boudoir Photographer Jen Needham’s amazing list of IG accounts she follows to create a body positive atmosphere, curate now!

5. Do Brave Things With Your Body of Today! Seriously, go do them. Whatever they are! Challenge your perception of your limitations and blow them out of the damn water! You are so capable of doing incredible things in the body you are in today, without changing a damn thing. When you do these brave things it also leads to a boost in your self-esteem and confidence. You can do other badass experiences like a burlesque class where you get in touch with your body and move. As a photographer myself I am going to plug that I think the best idea you certainly can do is to do a badass Boudoir Or Intimate Lifestyle shoot that challenges your mind on what you look like, your societal conventions, do it for YOU!

Girl you got this! It’s time to love your babely body today. Let’s not only stop the cycle within ourselves, but stop the cycle for our younger generation. Change may start with you but it will have a ripple effect and touch your friends, family, and others in your life.