Alicia McCarvell is spreading her message of self-love and body positivity. It’s a message that’s been well-received; Alicia has amassed over 5 million fans on Tiktok.
We sat down with Alicia to talk about body positivity and the specific steps she took to start loving herself.
“My journey with self-love has been a lifelong one. I think it is for most people. We’re all looking for acceptance from within; however, figuring out how to get there is one of the most difficult things we will ever do,” says Alicia.
Alicia’s journey is a familiar story. As a kid, she enjoyed playing sports such as volleyball, basketball, and taekwondo. “I just had fun. I didn’t think about exercise; it was just something that was a part of being involved in these sports.”
Once Alicia headed to university, sports no longer was part of her regular routine. “I wasn’t playing competitive sports and I ended up putting on a significant amount of weight.”
What followed was what Alicia calls “a very long and very tragic relationship with exercise.”
She went to the gym with the sole purpose of trying to lose weight, doing “obnoxious amounts of cardio” and exercises she thought she needed to do to lose weight.
The result was massive hostility between Alicia and her body when it wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do. At one point, Alicia entered a bikini competition, spending up to 5 hours a day at the gym, 7 days a week. She relied on what she alludes to as “unhealthy” habits to reach her goal.
“I walked across that competition stage at 128 pounds, and I was still unhappy with myself.” Alicia began to realize her discontent may have less to do with her weight and more to do with herself. The weight came back, and Alicia continued to struggle with her self-image, sitting on the sidelines of her life for years.
Alicia’s “A-ha” Moment
During a trip to Florida with her husband and friends, Alicia had what she calls her “a-ha” moment when she put on a swimsuit for the first time in years.
“I had so much fun that day. And when I got back to my hotel I started crying tears of joy. I realized how much I was missing out on life because my perception of my body and my weight was keeping me from doing things like simply enjoying a day at the beach.”
Alicia knew that she needed to make a change. This time, however, Alicia went to work on the inside, not her outer appearance.
Here are the 3 things Alicia did to bring more self-love into her life.
1. Start a ‘Love Me’ Journal
“The biggest thing I did for myself, and the thing that had the biggest impact on my life, was my ‘love me’ journal”, says Alicia.
Alicia went out and purchased an inexpensive journal and began a daily practice of writing down one positive thing about herself that had nothing to do with her body.
“I forced myself. And I say force because, in the beginning, it was not natural to sit down and write down positive things about myself. It was hard. Some days it would take me 15-minutes, other days it would take me an hour and a half just to get one thing written down that I liked about myself.”
Alicia soon began to fill her notebook. She would write down how she felt after handling a difficult customer with grace at her job. She wrote about feeling proud of the way she handled a disagreement with her husband.
“Some days were so hard it was all I could do to write down how I had put on a seatbelt that day and I was proud of myself for caring about my own personal safety,” she admits.
On other days, when Alicia struggled to come up with anything to write at all, she would turn to her support system. She would ask a friend or her husband to help her with that day’s entry.
In the end, Alicia ended up with a journal with over 275 things that she loved and appreciated about herself that had nothing to do with her body.
“All of these great things that I loved about myself, my humor, what kind of friend I was, what kind of manager I was, had nothing to do with the way I looked. And I started to realize that I even appreciated the not-so-great things about myself, like the fact that I’m disorganized. It’s just part of me.”
“Really separating my body from the things I loved about myself helped me achieve body neutrality. Even though I strive for self-love and body positivity, sometimes you need to get to body neutrality first. And the self-love journal is a huge step to help get you there.”
2. Fire Your Inner Critic
“We are all so good at giving kind, compassionate, and honest advice to our friends,” Alicia says. “We would never let them speak badly about themselves without reminding them of all the wonderful things about themselves. But when it comes to our own bodies, we speak so harshly about ourselves.”
Alicia started with an awareness of her inner critic and began to drastically alter her inner dialog.
She began speaking to herself with the same kind of compassion she would a friend.
“I still have days where I talk to myself poorly, but they are few and far between. Now, I talk to myself like I would a friend.”
3. Own Your Social Media
“One day, I was scrolling through my social media and I started to feel really shitty about myself,” Alicia recalls. “The messages I was taking in, like ‘no pain no gain’ and ‘get beachbody ready’ weren’t helping me feel good about myself.”
Alicia decided to take control over her social media feeds, finding like-minded people who share positive messages, filling her feed with people who looked like her, rather than some unattainable goal of what she “should” look like.
“We use social media every day, but people don’t realize how impactful it can be,” Alicia says.
If your social media feeds leave you feeling like you’re not good enough, take control of the messages that you’re being exposed to. Stop following people and pages that make you feel like you’re not enough. Start following people who model self-love and acceptance.
You have complete control over the images and messages that you consume on social media. Take charge of those messages.
From Insecure to Influencer
Alicia’s brand of humor and self-love has sparked with her audience. She’s now a body-positivity influencer with over 5 million followers on TikTok.
That exposure brought Alicia to the attention of the Bod Con community, where she was invited to be the keynote speaker at their inaugural presentation. Alicia was joined by Sydney Bell, Zach Miko, and Gabriella Halikas for a thought-provoking panel and community conversation about body acceptance, body positivity, and what it really means to have a “beach body.”
For Alicia, speaking at these conferences aligns perfectly with her current strategy for self-love: trying new things. “I just bought a pair of roller skates,” the influencer announces happily.
“We’re so quick to write ourselves off. We’re afraid of failure or of what other people might think. Don’t write yourself off. Try new things, and don’t let your body stop you from wearing a crop top, skinny dipping with your friends, buying roller skates, or doing any of the things we talk ourselves out of because we’re worried about what other people think.”
Photo credit: Sharlie Faye