Positive body affirmations are quite literally positive statements about your body that aim to refocus on how we think and feel about our body.
They're a helpful strategy you can use anywhere to improve body image. But not all body affirmations are created equally, in that, there's a right and wrong way to use them. This article gives you the tools to start writing effective body-positive affirmations targeted to your needs.
Step 1: Identify Your Body Affirmation Targets
The purpose of affirmations is to improve thoughts and feelings about body areas that you feel challenged by. So the first step to writing affirmations for your body is to work out what these are.
Grab some paper, a pen, and spend five minutes writing down in single words the parts of your body where negative thoughts might arise or that you feel most critical of.
I can think of a few that are common areas that pop up right off the bat. For example, wrinkles, body fat, thighs, arms, nose, hair, eyes. Do you notice a theme?
These are physical attributes. Interesting, isn't it! Even though we suggest not writing affirmations that focus on physicality, you'll see what we do with these shortly to change the focus from appearance to their function. There might be others that aren't appearance focused too, of course. Particularly if you've suffered from an illness or part of your body that's doesn't function as you'd expect it to. Write them down now, as many as you can think of.
Step 2: Brainstorm Facts About These Parts of Your Body
Next step. This is where we get to put Google to use and do some research. Let's start by picking your top three affirmation targets you wrote down in Step 1. These might be the areas of your body you feel most critical or troubled by.
Now we're going to do some brainstorming about the wild and beautiful things these body parts do for you. Let's get creative here. Start by writing down the things that come to mind first, then we can do a Google search next.
Try not to worry if your body is not perfect at these functions you're identifying. Just note what it tries to do for you. If you have an injury or physical disability that makes it difficult to perform a task, make a note of how your body might try to compensate. For example, when hearing is impaired, the body tries to dial up other senses to compensate.
We want to get creative here and think about various things that don't always come to mind. This is where a google search is helpful, type in "What functions does [body part] perform?" or "How does my body compensate for [body function]" and see what comes up, then write these down.
Let's look at an example of this approach with body fat. Some of its not-so-obvious functions are to store fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D. Body fat keeps us warm, protects our bones and organs. It also stores energy. The nose is another interesting example, when I was doing these exercises I found out that our noses filter the air we breathe; they also warm the air so that we don't get brain freeze every time we're breathing cold air— fascinating!
Over to you! Write as many functions as you can think of. But try not to get caught up on how scientifically accurate you are with each function! That's not the purpose of this exercise. It's simply to appreciate these areas of your body a bit differently than you typically would. Some creativity is welcome here!
Step 3: Draft Some Positive Affirmations
Next is the fun part, writing some body affirmations that we researched in step two. The objective is to write affirmations that are detailed enough to build some appreciation instead of using a broad-brushed statement (like my heart is beautiful). Although this is a beautiful affirmation, the aim here is to think a bit more deeply about our body and what it tries to do. A good place to start is with a little formula.
Body Positive Affirmation = [opening statement] + [body part] + [function or compensation]
Here are a couple of examples using this formula:
[Thank You] + [Skin] + [for protecting my delicate organs from the suns intense rays]
If you'd like to add a bit more flair, you can also try to getting more abstract with your affirmation statements by adding some adjectives like this!
[I am grateful] + [to my expressive eyes] + [for helping speak my truth when I struggle to find the right words]
As you can see with these statements above, we've tried to not target the most apparent function but something a little more abstract that you wouldn't ordinarily think of. Now it's your turn, get your three affirmations and research from the previous step, and draft some statements.
*A gentle reminder here, try not to judge your affirmations as good or bad while writing them. We'll do a check in the next step anyway.
Step 4: Run an Affirmations Usefulness Check
A vital part of any affirmation to be effective is that it meets our realistic criteria and that it is relatable and believable. That it really does give you a sense of appreciation and compassion toward your body when you read it. Also, that it's not overtly appearance focussed even though it may target an appearance-related area.
So pick an affirmation and read it aloud. Then reflect for a moment and try to answer these questions:
- How do I feel about it?
- Could it use an added positive adjective to bring it more to life?
- Do I believe it deep down, and does it help me feel a greater sense of gratitude toward my body?
If you're happy with these answers, nice work! You nailed it! But if not, that's okay too. Take a moment to make some tweaks and then see how it goes. Affirmations don't have to be one-and-done. Adjust as needed.
Don't be afraid to experiment and mix it up. Try out a few comedic affirmations, or more gentle affirmations. Sometimes bringing out our humanness and the funny, crazy, embarrassing things our bodies do is good too.
Here's a comedic example affirmation that I wrote for our body affirmations zine.
Body, those awkward noises you make embarrass me sometimes! But I know how hard you're working to bring me comfort! So thanks for that!
Step 5: Pick the Affirmations that Resonate Most and Start Using Them
Last but not least, choose the affirmations that resonate most with you, and start using them—checkout out our guide on using affirmations day-to-day. Carry them with you, pop them on your mirror, work out those challenging times and give them a try.
I hope that these give you a renewed compassion and appreciation for your incredible, imperfect body trying to do its best.
We've got lots more body image zines and resources. And for affirmation tips, suggestions, and throughs, pop them in the comments below.