Want to feel happy looking good at this time of the year?

Ever not worn that top because it revealed your oh-so-horrific-not-flat stomach? Or practised the skilful art of posing to conceal your ‘problem areas’ in photos? Or perhaps simply looked in the mirror and felt ‘meh’? Well you’re in luck: there’s a loving wave of body positivity right now and it’s one we should all jump headfirst into.
Eilidh Akilade knows all about being body positive. And she’s willing to share…

Do you remember in the early 2000s just about every sitcom, at least once, had a girl desperately ask, “Does my butt look big in this?”
That same pain and agony is now etched into the faces of many girls as they worry that their butt does not “look big in this”.
Crazy, right? Our beauty standards change constantly: from month to month, year to year, century to century.
Ancient Greece glorified pale, curvy, full women – tell that to your fake tan and dreaded fat rolls – whereas in 1920s Europe it was all about that androgynous figure. Maybe, just maybe, this shows that fixating on a ‘perfect’ body is futile. Besides, if you dig deep enough in the history books whatever your body type is will have been ‘perfect’ at some point.

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Let’s be honest: I say body issues and you think of a teenage girl obsessing over weight, plastering her face with foundation and burning her skin with a concoction of acne products.
But – news flash – body issues affect every gender and so body positivity is for all.
Yes, women and men are held to different standards but we all feel the same crushing pressure. As a woman, I’m aware I should have a big butt, big boobs, but of course still a slim figure, the right shade of tanned skin, silky straight hair rather than the frizzy mane I champion and, you know, be ‘pretty’.
Exhausting. Men, here’s your (beginners’) checklist: be muscular – but in a natural way like the latest Marvel superhero, obviously; be the right kind of hairy and be tall, being smaller than a girl is a national embarrassment.
Easy peasy. If any of that nonsense made you come out in panicked sweats then you desperately need your daily dose of body positivity.

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Fat bits, thin bits, lumpy bits, wonky noses, small boobs, saggy butts, spotty faces, stretch marks – it’s ridiculous everything we can feel insecure about.
Worry not – body positivity is here to help. Body positivity i s a movement to promote self love and acceptance of your beautiful body. I can already hear the usual rebuttals: “Positivity – sounds a bit… hippy,” or, “Isn’t loving your body a bit big headed?” – to which I roll my eyes. This is a movement we desperately need. In such an image driven society it’s difficult not to get too wrapped up in our insecurities.
Adopting body positivity into your life will make you a more confident, happy and less stressed person – that’s a pinky promise.
You in?

It’s bizarre that we’re all so worried about lumps of bone, muscle and fat, but, whether we’re aware of it or not, we’ve all been programmed to think that way.
We pay weight loss companies to tell us how awful our diet is. We watch TV problems that either worship one body type or tell you how to fix your own – why, oh why, did I watch Ten Years Younger aged eight?
We’re told to wear make-up, go to the gym, eat ‘clean’ – whatever that means – buy into the new fashions to fit in.
It doesn’t help that we’re all precariously navigating the new world of social media.
It’s a triumph of body insecurities that we can now compare ourselves to others with likes, comments, followers…
This bombardment of ‘perfection’ leaves us caught in a web of self hate. It’s no wonder we spend all our time and money on picking ourselves apart.

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Although body positivity is all about, well, your body, it’s important to focus on you as a person too.
Your body is simply a shell. What really matters is you as a person – so much more important than an image any day.
Try taking a break from social media to reconnect with yourself: constantly comparing yourself to others isn’t going to do you any favours and I guarantee it will help detox your mind.
Instead, maybe keep a journal, write, get creative – anything that will help you get to know the real you. Perhaps try meditating or being mindful – it’s not as hippy as it sounds – to de-stress. Think about all your positive attributes and what it is your loved ones love about you.
Even simply spending time with those closest to you can take your mind off your insecurities and allow you to focus on people rather than people’s image.

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The pain of convincing myself not to eat the cake is always worse than any ‘guilt’ from eating the cake.
Jumping into the sea on holiday – thanks little cousins – is so much better than trying to preserve my hair and makeup all day.
So why do we strive so much for this perfection?
No matter how many times you go to the gym or how much plastic surgery you get you’re never going to achieve this ‘perfection’. It’s a mirage, an unattainable goal that is only going to worsen when we feed into the desperation.
And, we all know that so often these people who seem to have attained ‘perfection’ are plagued with misery – even they aren’t ‘perfect’.
It must be exhausting constantly telling yourself you need to do this, this and this to be good enough. So yes, if you think it will really honestly truly make you feel better to lift those weights or get that boob job then go for it.
But, just remember, life is better when you jump into the deep end and eat the cake.

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Focusing on what you love about your body is tricky but essential. To start off, write down all your positive features or mentally compliment yourself whenever you see that babe in the mirror.
Try to feel comfortable in your body too, after all you’re stuck in it for a lifetime. If dancing alone to old Glee songs in your underwear makes you feel good – thank goodness I’m not alone – then go for it! I like to exercise – not to lose weight or tone but to reduce stress and release those sweet endorphins. And think how amazing your body is: your heart pumps blood so you can hug, dance, travel, communicate, even give blood – find love in that!
My food philosophy is if my body’s craving it then I must need it. Don’t argue with me on this, it’s nearly the holiday season. Throw in plenty of fruit and veg because nurturing your body is just as important as cake. Oh, and ever heard of self-care? I go all out: nails painted, Lush baths, Gilmore Girls, anything to make me feel like a Goddess.
GLEE: L-R: Jenna Ushkowitz, Becca Tobin and Vanessa Lengies perform at Regionals in the "All Or Nothing" season finale episode of GLEE airing Thursday, May 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Adam Rose/FOX