The journey of kindness & self-care
The body positive movement is something we’re extremely passionate about at Isla In Bloom as it's something we as women need to work on throughout our lifetime. It resonates with us because as a swimwear label with a focus on vibrant prints and quality of fit, our goal is to make women feel beautiful, feminine and confident when they wear one of our bikinis. Our romantic, boho-inspired florals are designed for those who love to express their style and personality through bold colours and playful prints and in turn, it brings happiness and self-confidence for the summer months ahead.
What body positivity means to us
We see the goal of body positivity to be an ongoing journey of kindness and self-care. It's about learning to appreciate our incredible bodies and empowering ourselves to manage self-criticism, challenging those thoughts with alternative messages and kindness. It’s about learning to manage our mindset in situations that might usually damage our self-esteem - like comparing ourselves to others. And because it’s a journey, it's about recognising when we’re having an off day and accepting that it’s ok to feel both ways. Body positivity is a process of thoughts and emotions - the good and the bad.
''Admire someone else's beauty, without questioning your own''
These days, more and more people are promoting body positivity with an increasing number of brands getting behind the movement. This is so empowering to women but we need to be mindful of the varied messaging, which can sometimes be misleading. With the contribution of social media, we’re exposed to this idealism multiple times a day. To us, being body positive is not about 100% positivity at all times. It's not about promoting an end goal where you’ve completely eliminated all negative thoughts and have complete self-acceptance. Setting a standard that might not be achievable will just make you feel down the next time you experience self-criticism. These kinds of thoughts are normal! They’re not ok, but we’re human and we’ve had a lifetime of being trained to critique ourselves. It's how we manage these thoughts that’s most important.
Acts of kindness
Once you truly understand that you don’t have to be perfect in this process or achieve an end goal, you can then focus on the journey itself and the small steps you can take to reframe your critical thoughts, learning how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life.
Our brains are wired to send messages out before we even have a chance to be selective with what we want to come to mind and what we’d rather just not think about. Combine that with the way we’ve been programmed to be critical of ourselves and it can be very overwhelming. Especially if we don’t know how to challenge our thoughts. To help with this, we need to have a set of tools and a 'library of evidence' that we use when we’re challenged with a critical frame of mind.
Tools such as podcasts and the Headspace app can be so effective in learning the basics of mindfulness. As soon as you start to truly believe that a thought is not a fact, then you can start to be more selective with what thoughts you put your energy into so you can become more confident in fighting self-criticism.
This could be going outside for a walk, reading a book to take your mind elsewhere or doing something creative. Self-care might not even be anything ‘productive’. It could be relaxing in the sun with a wine, having a spa day, or watching your favourite Netflix series. Whatever self-care is to you, be kind and gentle to yourself in times of uncertainty and use things that give you moments of happiness. This in turn will feed your subconscious that you are worthy, even if your thoughts are telling you otherwise.
Create your own 'library of evidence'
Write down the common thoughts you have when you're being self-critical. Now write down an alternative, more helpful way of thinking for each of those thoughts. What other proof do you have that challenges these thoughts with the alternative message - it might be what your family and friends say about you, or it might be factual evidence that you've discovered like, 'A thought is not a fact' and 'No one is scrutinising me like I'm scrutinising myself'. You'll be surprised, once you put pen to paper with these alternative ways of thinking, you'll start to become more self-aware, allowing you to practice these techniques as self-criticism arises.
Surround yourself with uplifting people
Being around people who allow you to be the best version of yourself will help you on your journey in having a body positive frame of mind. This goes for social media too. Who you choose to follow can have a significant impact on your self-image and therefore mental health. By choosing to follow women who you can relate to, or those who promote body positivity in a healthy and realistic way, will contribute to your shift in mindset.
Here are ways that some of our fav muses challenge their own critical self by practicing kindness and self-care...
During isolation, I've been writing a couple of bullet points of examples people love and like me. It could be a text from a friend to see how I'm doing, or kindness from a stranger. They're not actions that are provoked by what you've done - just proof that people are good and that you are worthy of love even if you're just sitting inside.
I find it makes it easier for me to find the things about myself that I like, because I'm able to see myself from other people's perspective.
I tell myself...
1. I'm different and that's amazing.
2. Sometimes I feel anxious but that's not who I am it's just how I feel.
3. My body is amazing no matter even if it changes.
4. I love myself unconditionally.
5. I am enough.
A good way to help feelings of self-doubt and criticism is to create a visual moodboard and put it somewhere you can see it every day. It can include some quotes that remind you to be kind to yourself and why you're worthy of that kindness. You can also include visuals that make you feel grounded, this might be pictures with friends and loved ones - the people who love you for you. It's so important to celebrate our uniqueness and remind ourselves of this when we're feeling critical.
Whenever I'm being overly critical, I try to think about all that my body allows me to do. Instead of focusing on what I don't like at that moment, I try to focus on what I'm grateful for.
My body lets me surf, hike, run and experience this beautiful world without struggle. That's pretty wonderful if you ask me! You'd be amazed how much your perspective changes when you shift your thinking to come from a place of gratitude instead of criticism.
Lately when I have self-critical thoughts I try to tell myself it's ok and that I'm doing my best. Trying to hate yourself into being 'better' is really uninspiring and just doesn't work.
When I forgive myself for not being 'however I've decided I should be' it's much easier for me to accomplish things and just be a kinder, better person. As a model I'm self-critical of the way I look a lot, I've just seen too many photos and angles of myself.
I try to remember that no one is perfect and in fact people seeing the imperfections I have could make a big difference in how they feel about themselves. That would have made a big difference for me growing up and it makes a big difference for me now.
One of the things I do the most if I'm feeling self-critical is to remove my own 'self' from it. I try to imagine that I am a friend or a loved one having these concerns, and how ridiculous I would find it.
I look at my friends with nothing but adoration, and would never even notice the things (looks, personality traits etc) that I pick apart in myself, so I try and realise that no one is doing that to me. Pretty much trying to speak to myself the way I would speak to someone I love.
What I try and remind myself of when I'm being overly critical is how lucky I am. I'm healthy, I have family and friends who care about me, a roof over my head and live in an amazing part of the world. There are a lot of people in the world who are much less fortunate. Getting caught up on things like not feeling productive enough or not fitting into a certain size pair of jeans really aren't important when you think about the bigger picture.
I just ask myself if what I'm being critical about is actually important, nearly 100% of the time it's not at all.
And so our journey continues
Being body positive is not something that we earn overnight. We have to work consistently at it, making it a habit in our everyday life so it becomes something we build self-awareness on and practice regularly. It also doesn't have to be something that we aim to perfect from the outset, it might just be something we begin to practice when we’re feeling up to it. What’s amazing though, is like with any muscle, your strength builds over time and one day you realise you’ve instilled these behaviours into your mindset - you didn’t even realise it had become the norm!
We believe in the journey of kindness and self-care wholeheartedly and we want to positively impact as many women as possible and to remind each individual that there is only one YOU and that you deserve to have a positive image of yourself.
Even from the initial concept of Isla In Bloom we had a goal to create a community of women who empower each other throughout the ongoing journey of kindness and self-care.
This is our first step towards this goal.
Join the conversation
We would love to hear whats in your 'library of evidence' that you revert to when you have self-critical thoughts. This might include something that reframes that thought or something that you tell yourself to prove yourself wrong! Send us a message on IG so we can share it to our community in hope that we can inspire and help others to practice kindness and self-care on a daily basis.