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Practicing self-care and being around supportive people, students say, help them overcome social pressures and negative comparisons

Ellie Magleby smiling wearing a red, white and red patterned shirt with lights in the background.
Ellie Magleby

Ellie Magleby said her body positivity increased when she started designating one day each week to self-care and self-love. Her most recent self-care day involved breakfast while watching the sunrise, a hike on her own and a beach day full of swimming and soaking up the sun.

“My self-care days make me feel connected to myself and the earth. They give me stronger compassion for the things I am stewards of like my body, mind and the earth.”

Magleby, a junior from Utah studying hospitality and tourism management and marine biology, said there was a time in her life where pressure from the outside world, such as social media, led her to stop caring about taking care of herself and diminished her self-image. In addition, she said being surrounded by people who frequently made negative comments about themselves influenced her to feel negative too.

Through these experiences, she said she recognized the first step to being successful in life is respecting yourself, surrounding yourself with positive people, falling in love with who you are and ultimately becoming your own best friend.

“We are our own best friend for the rest of our lives. You are the only real person you can count on, so it’s very important to take that time and invest it into yourself,” Magleby said. “Once I realized that, it changed my whole mindset around practicing self-love and body positivity.”

She said body positivity has nothing to do with physical appearance, but it is about how people feel about themselves, their moods and personalities. She said doing what makes them feel good changes how they see themselves and how others see them.

BYU–Hawaii students said there are other ways to boost your positivity, such as exercising faith, surrounding yourself with positive people and practicing self-acceptance and healthy habits.

Exercising faith

Alyanna Calabazaron, a senior from California studying biomedical science, said body confidence should start with remembering everyone on earth has heavenly parents.

She quotes words from Hannah DeTavis, a young-adult writer for the Church, which reads, “We may never feel as though we fit societal ideals of beauty, but what is more beautiful than the self-assurance that comes from this simple truth: ‘I am a child of God?’ Shifting our body image is less about how often we exercise at the gym and more about how often we exercise faith and remember in whose image we were created.”

Calabazaron said people’s body positivity comes from being kind to themselves. “Accepting who you are and accepting what you're given is key. Just keep in mind and remember that, like everyone, imperfections and differences are what makes us beautiful.”

Alyanna Calabazaron smiling wearing a blue with purple flowered dress with a tree behind her.

Surround yourself with positivity

Magleby said she learned the people she surrounds herself with make all the difference on how she feels about herself. When she filled her day with positive and uplifting people, she said she gained more body positivity and confidence.

“The people you surround yourself with really influence the person you are and how you view yourself. The same idea goes for social media and who you choose to follow. Most people I follow are people that advocate the idea of self-love and body positivity and live a life full of compassion for themselves and others.”

Rachel Revillo, a former BYUH student from the Philippines, said growing up in the Philippines was difficult if you were tall, broad or tan because those traits did not fit into societal standards. She said this caused her to struggle with body image and self-confidence during high school.

She said when she was feeling very low about herself, she would often confide in her friends, who would try to encourage her to not think in a negative way. However, she said their words of encouragement didn’t really seem to help. This led to Revillo’s realization that her low mood and self-esteem only impacted her and not others around her.

To anyone who may be struggling, Revillo said to remember it always gets better. “You have so many people and support around you that you shouldn't be going through this alone. Being positive with your body isn't just a one-day thing. [You don’t] wake up one day and then suddenly love yourself. It’s a step-by-step thing, so you do one thing at a time.”

Some steps Revillo took were spending time with herself, buying new clothes that made her feel confident and connecting with friends who made her feel happy and loved.

Healthy habits 

Revillo said improving body confidence and body image can be as simple as investing time to take care of yourself and your body. She said, “Sleeping early, eating healthy and doing skincare are some of the main things that helped me be positive with my body. You can love yourself without having to change anything and instead, take the time to keep your body clean.”

Calabazaron said it can also be helpful to take a break from social media. “Give yourself time away from social media because social media can be super toxic a lot of time. Sometimes I choose to delete all my socials for a week and just focus on myself. And I think just focusing on yourself in general is the best way to gain confidence.”

When she takes a break from her social media, she said she can focus more on activities and hobbies she really enjoys. She said when she does re-download social media, she is careful to set a time limit on her apps so she can have more balance in her life.