Loving You: Focus on Ability, not Appearance

Human bodies have an inherent strength and beauty that often gets overlooked. This beauty is not measured by dress size, flawless skin, or perfect symmetry but by the incredible things our bodies allow us to do daily. By shifting our focus from appearance to ability, we can begin to appreciate and celebrate our bodies more meaningfully and empoweringly, thereby boosting body confidence.

Meet Daniel, a graphic designer from Seattle. Daniel was an active child, loved playing sports, and enjoyed outdoor activities. However, as he grew older, he started to gain weight and felt increasingly uncomfortable about his body. He stopped participating in sports and avoided any activity that would draw attention to his physical appearance.

One day, Daniel decided to shift his perspective. He focused less on his body’s appearance and more on what it could do. He started hiking, an activity he loved as a child. At first, he could barely manage short, easy trails. But he persisted. He celebrated each milestone—his first 1-mile hike, then 2 miles, and then his first mountain climb. With each accomplishment, his confidence in his body grew. Daniel realized that his body, regardless of how it looked, was capable of amazing things.

Focusing on our bodies’ abilities rather than appearance can be transformative. It is acknowledging and appreciating our bodies’ strength, resilience, and capabilities instead of criticizing them for not meeting certain aesthetic ideals.

According to Harvard Medical School, focusing on what your body can do and improving those abilities can improve body satisfaction. Similarly, a study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that women who valued their body’s functionality and ability were likelier to have higher body appreciation and satisfaction.

Bestselling author and body confidence advocate Megan Jayne Crabbe beautifully encapsulates this sentiment in her book “Body Positive Power.” She writes, “Your body is not an ornament. It is the vehicle to your dreams.”

Shifting our focus from how our bodies look to what they can achieve fosters an appreciation for their functionality. Whether running a marathon, dancing, swimming, lifting weights or simply walking in the park, every minor achievement adds to our body confidence.

Remember, developing body confidence is a journey, and having good and bad days is okay. It’s all about learning to love and respect your body for what it is and what it can do.

How have your perceptions shifted when you focused on your body’s abilities rather than appearance? What activities or achievements have boosted your body’s confidence? Please share your experiences in the comments.