Research shows that bi identities are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction than both the gay and straight communities*.
Along with bi antagonism and bi erasure, the bi community experience the mounted pressure of *allll* the gazes. This is tricky AF to navigate and can bring about feelings of vulnerability when it comes to body image.
Here at UNICORN, we get that. We know that sometimes, it’s hella hard to be confident in how we see our bodies.
That’s why we sought out the body confidence experts and asked them for their top tips on building a healthy body image.
So sit back, relax, and read on for some tried-and-tested body image advice you can use right away.
1. Start with body neutrality, not body positivity
Body neutrality means accepting your body as it is. It’s about respecting your body, without attaching any positive or negative labels. Body image activist and empowerment photographer, Teri Hofford, explains why this is important:
‘We can’t begin to undo body negativity until we get to a place of simple acceptance: my body isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it just *is*.’
Striving for positivity right away can be tricky – it puts you under unnecessary pressure to love your body emphatically.
Teri explains that often, there’s years of negative self-talk to unpack, and challenging that negativity is a work in progress. It’s not fair on yourself to expect immediate love and positivity when looking in the mirror.
What you can do is practice acceptance and appreciation.
For example, instead of feeling pressured to love your thighs, you can appreciate that they help you cycle to keep fit and enjoy the outdoors. Accepting their usefulness helps you to be thankful, and this gratitude is a significant step towards positivity.
2. Give yourself permission to dislike some body parts
For some of us, there’s always going to be something we don’t love.
And that’s ok.
Body neutrality means not letting this hold you back. It draws the focus away from what your body looks like and concentrates on what it’s capable of.
Teri Hofford explains how this works in her studio:
‘You can dislike your tum, but
it’s not going to stop you from being sexy.
I show [my clients] a full body photo where they look sensual as hell and they remember how they FELT in that moment and it correlates: “WOW! I can be sexy AND I have a tum!” instead of “I can’t be sexy BECAUSE of my tum!”
By accepting there’s always going to be a part of your body that’s not your favourite, you create peace and allow space to focus on all the parts you do love.
3. Follow diverse bodies online
Social media is an absolute gift, especially right now, when staying in touch with friends and family is more important than ever.
But sometimes it can be challenging. Getting caught in the scroll hole can trigger body dissatisfaction, especially if you’re flicking through overly-edited posts without your full awareness.
The good news? You can control this.
Shaping your feed by unfollowing a few airbrushed influencers and increasing the amount of *real* people you follow can be super helpful.
Teri is a huge advocate for cherry picking that Insta feed:
‘Follow people that have bodies that make you feel a little uncomfortable at first and
improve the representation of bodies that you see
We’re in a world where we have the ability to curate our own media, so let’s do it.’
Following a range of truly diverse individuals is a great body confidence hack. The more bodies you see, the more you’ll come to know that ALL bodies have the right to be seen, loved and appreciated. Especially yours.
4. Find your people
Connect with people that look like you and find out what helps them stay body confident. When you surround yourself with similar-bodied people, you can look to them for support and inspiration.
Intersectional activist and body image vlogger, Annie Segarra (Annie Elainey), is a huge advocate for seeking out representation. She explains how it helped her when she first started using a wheelchair:
‘I was insecure – it was a big change. What helped was searching for other wheelchair users online and
finding encouragement in their self-love
and in how badass they all looked.’
Annie says that lack of representation and community can really take its toll on self-confidence and body love, so seeking it out and immersing yourself in it is vital.
5. Question any negative thoughts
When it comes to body confidence, it’s so important to question any negative thoughts that you notice appearing. Acknowledge their presence but do not accept them as fact.
Annie suggests first approaching the negative thought with deep, calming breaths. Then, work to stabilise yourself:
‘If you notice an intrusive thought, don’t let it go unquestioned. Advocate for yourself against it. It’s harming you and you don’t deserve it.’
‘Is that really true? Can I definitely know it’s true?’
‘Would I talk to someone else like that?’
‘Does anyone else believe that? Would my loved ones believe that?’
Gently thinking through the answers to these questions will help to challenge the negative voice, calmly bringing you back to a more positive state of mind.
So there you have it! The hottest top tips on bi body confidence. We’d love to know which ones worked for you – be sure to tag us on insta @unicornzine with the hashtag #BiBodyConfidence
*Research from Boehmer et al., 2007; Polimeni et al., 2009). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520663/#B59
She / Her | Miami, USA | YouTuber and intersectional activist
Annie is queer lifestyle vlogger, writer and activist. She creates content about her experiences with body image, gender, race, LGBT, disability, chronic illness, and mental health.
She / Her | Canada | Body image activist and photographer
Teri is body image activist and boudoir photographer who empowers people to embrace the beauty in body diversity through photography & education.
Teri and Annie were interviewed by Emily Kemp