If there’s anyone who knows about body confidence, it’s TV presenter Anna Richardson.
The Naked Attraction host estimates she’s seen “well over 100 penises in the space of about eight days” while filming series six of the Channel 4 dating show, in which six completely naked singletons battle it out to secure a date.
And while we all know that meeting a potential partner for the first time can be awkward – even when fully clothed – it can be even more daunting if you’re struggling with body image issues. “I think the rise of online dating apps is the millennial scourge, because it forces you to become incredibly judgemental and to focus on looks,” says Anna.
But algorithm dating needn’t be the scary, anxiety-inducing episode you’ve built it up to be in your head. And the even better news? Your body doesn’t necessarily have to change either – just the way you view it.
We asked Anna for her top tips to banish nerves, eliminate niggling body confidence worries and boss your next big date.
Radiate inner confidence
“If you strip away the superficial elements of dating apps, ask yourself, ‘How do you fall in love?’ It always comes down to rapport, shared interests and shared goals – as well as finding each other attractive.
“So it’s not really about looks at all, it’s actually about inner confidence. You are naturally drawn to people who are positive and who are confident in themselves.
“Some of the most successful people on Naked Attraction were the ones that were just able to stand on show proudly and confidently, even if they weren’t especially good looking. They were just absolutely comfortable in their own skin.”
Mirror your date’s actions and hold their gaze
“If you want to be memorable, it’s all about making eye contact with your date. You should also think about matching and mirroring your date’s postures and actions. Whatever they’re doing, do the same, because it enables rapport – that’s when attraction can really gel.”
Don’t dwell on your own imperfections
“There’s one guy I’ll never forget in series one of Naked Attraction. He was a big fellow who’d lost his leg, but his argument for coming onto the show was, ‘Well, when you’ve lost a leg, this means nothing’.
“The show has done wonders for people’s body confidence, because it allows you to understand there are lots of different bodies out there – and not just the ones you see in pornography.
“I’ve never met a single person who has said Naked Attraction has made them feel insecure. It’s incredibly liberating.”
Ignore your negative subconscious
“You’re controlled by your subconscious mind; it dictates 90% of what you do. All it wants to do is protect you by pushing you towards pleasure and taking you away from pain.
“If you’re lacking in confidence, that’s your subconscious is saying, ‘Don’t go on that date because he won’t like you, he might reject you and it hurts’.
“Remind your subconscious that you do want to push yourself to date, because it’s good for you.”
“You could also try tapping or ‘EFT’ (Emotional Freedom Techniques) ahead of a big date. It uses certain energy points in your body such as your wrists and temples to relieve anxiety. As you tap on them, say affirmative messages such as, ‘I know I’m going on a date and I know I’m feeling really insecure, however, I completely accept myself’.
“Affirm all the way around your body that you accept your worry. You’ll notice your anxiety comes right down – tapping really is fantastic.”
Try The Circle of Excellence
“In psychotherapy there’s a technique called ‘The Circle of Excellence’. [Anna is a trained psychotherapist who has just launched Mindbox, a digital therapy platform].
“Stand in your current space and imagine you’ve spun a spiderweb out of your wrist that has created a little circle in front of you. Within that circle, close your eyes and put all of your good emotions inside. So think about the times when you’ve felt your absolute most confident – when friends have told you you’re amazing, or projects have been successful at work.
“Then physically step into the circle and embody those feelings. When you walk through the door on your date, you’ll already feel on top of the world.”