If Ashley Graham sometimes lacks body confidence, what hope is there for the rest of us? We spoke to activist and model Katie Willcox about how to celebrate and love your body just the way it is.
Her curvaceous figure graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, but even body activist Ashley Graham, 31, admits that “some days” she “feels fat.” “I’m not convinced there’s going to be a moment where every woman in the world wakes up and feels like a million dollars,” the 5ft 9, size 14-16 model told PEOPLE in June 2017. So, what do you do on those days that you’re not loving your body?
We reached out to model and author Katie Willcox, 34, who founded Healthy Is The New Skinny – a movement that encourages women to focus on wellness, not obsessively dieting and exercising to fit into a beauty ideal. Katie tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY how to deal with those so-called “fat” feelings. Surprisingly, the mom-of-one doesn’t think looking in the mirror and repeating, “I am beautiful,” is going to cut it. “Affirmations only work if the belief is there,” she tells us. Instead, Katie recommends the following five tips.
1. Separate Your Feelings From Your Body. Repeat after us, “Fat is not a feeling.” “Instead of saying, ‘I feel fat,’ say, ‘What’s making me feel inadequate right now?’” Katie says, adding, “’Cause that’s really what you’re saying. We have to separate our feelings from our body. If you’re being intellectual about it, your body has done nothing to you. You may be feeling frustrated or inadequate or depressed. We’re placing the blame onto our body because we’ve been taught that if we just fix our body, then our feelings will go away.” Instead, Katie suggests diving deeper into your emotional state to determine the root of the problem.
2. Beware Of Media Manipulation. Katie believes our conscious and subconscious minds are “important factors” in establishing our beauty ideals that feed our self-loathing. “We view around three to four thousand ads per day,” she says. “What we’re retaining can be both powerful and also very toxic and that is in correlation to how we feel about ourselves. So, if you see a Victoria’s Secret commercial and you’re not really analyzing the media that you’re seeing, you’re gonna [sic] be storing the idea that you’d look better if your boobs were a little bit higher and you were skinner.”
3. Don’t Compare Your Personal Truth To Other People’s Fake Reality. Being aware of commercials is not enough. Realizing that the seemingly perfect lives and bodies that influencers post on social media may not be what you see, is also essential. Katie warns against comparing your “personal truth” (how you feel about yourself when you’re alone) with someone’s “social mask” (the perfect image they portray to the world). “That’s the most toxic thing that causes an instant reaction of depression and low self-esteem and fuels this cycle of negative self-beliefs,” she says. “We’re comparing our truths to other people’s false reality that doesn’t exist.”
4. Building Self-Esteem Takes Time. Remember that old adage that it takes 21 days to establish a habit? Katie says it’s the same with building your self-esteem. “You can’t just go, ‘I love myself. Let’s go camp naked under a full moon and instantly love [ourselves],’” she says. Nixing negative self-talk means changing old concepts about our self-worth. Focus on exercise to boost your mood, for example, rather than just to “look good for other people,” Katie says. “Make a conscious choice to stick to something that helps you feel better.”
5. Focus On Your Foundation. Finally, this whole process is not going to change overnight and don’t expect it to. Think of yourself as your home. “You’re trying to build a safe, solid structure for yourself to reside in and you need a foundation in order to do that,” Katie says. So, every time you stand up for yourself or do something that creates joy in your life you’re building a block of self-esteem. The more we focus on that and the less consumed we are with calories and workouts, Katie believes, the better we’ll feel.
The goal is to get to the point where, when you do tell yourself that you “feel fat,” you catch yourself, tap into these tools and do what Katie tells herself, “You know what? I’m not buying into this bulls**t.”