"If you follow accounts that are going to give you a more balanced view on life and appearance, then social media is a good tool.

"But if you're going to follow ones that leave you with low self-worth, then that can be very negative."

Body empowerment starts with being yourself and accepting who you are, says Katie Piper, author, speaker, TV presenter, charity founder, and former Strictly contestant. She admits that's not always easy in our frantic social media age, where people constantly compare their bodies to others’ and have fixed ideas about perceptions of beauty.

“We share more and more on social media platforms these days,” she says. “So we see more and more bodies — and Photoshopped ones, as well — so, sadly, I think comparison is a big issue. Sometimes, the things people are envious of don't exist anyway; often there's a lot of facade out there.

When it comes to the images we're bombarded with every day, we have to understand what's real and what's not real. Getting a handle on that is a lot healthier, I think, because comparison is the thief of joy. It keeps you being very busy doing nothing at all while everyone else is getting on with their lives. And it doesn't change anything.”

 

Using social media in a positive way

 

While she believes that social media can be a force for good, she's also concerned that it can negatively impact young people. “We're all on social media for work and socialising and we can all be vulnerable to feelings of inadequacy,” says Katie. “Maybe older people are more equipped to deal with those feelings whereas, if you're slightly younger, you might not be. If you follow lots of accounts that are going to motivate and inspire you and give you a more balanced view on life and appearance, then social media is a good tool. But if you're going to follow ones that manipulate you and leave you with low self-worth, then that can be very negative.”

In 2018, Katie started an inspirational podcast called Katie Piper's Extraordinary People to help people who are dealing with crisis of confidence issues. “I get a lot of people messaging me asking for help with low self-esteem,” she says. “Also, at the other end of the scale, I get people wanting to share their stories about how they overcame adversity. I wanted to give them a platform, and hopefully their life lessons will benefit and impact people who are struggling. The stories on the podcast make me cry, make me laugh and I've always come away feeling very reflective.”

 

Writing down your successes and failures

 

She also released a self-help book last year called, Confidence: The Journal, which aims to get people to think positively and find self-fulfillment. She keeps a personal journal, too. “I found self-acceptance through journaling,” admits Katie. “I'm quite a visual person, so I need to write things down. I write lists: what's good about me, what's bad about me, my successes, my failures; and setting it all out in a journal really helped me believe it. If you write down when things go wrong and when things go well, you can see the patterns and learn how to repeat them — or not. I advise everyone to get a journal.”

If anyone knows about dealing with trauma and adversity, it's Katie. “What empowers me is realising the fragility of life and how health isn't a given thing,” she says. “It’s a luxury we all have — and if we have it, we're very fortunate. To hate your body when you are able and living is a waste.”