With summer officially here, many of the lady mags are talking about swimsuit season and the horrors of trying on swimwear in a stuffy, fluorescent-lit cubicle. While I understand taking this sort of approach–we’ve all had our body-conscious moments, after all, and can commiserate over the common experience–this type of attitude bothers me on a deeper level. Why do women default to self-snarking when talking to other women?

We’re not going to answer that in a blog post, of course, but it seems that projecting a lack of confidence is the standard female response to discussions or comments about body image. It’s something that I have always struggled discussing with my own lady friends; I want to shake some sense into their gorgeous heads. I proudly admit to being a confident person and so, here are my top 5 tips to stop the self-snark.

1. Repeat: Media images are not real
It boggles my mind when women compare themselves to models/actresses in any sort of mass media. These images are not real! Great genes help, but media images require many moving parts–lighting, professional hair, makeup and styling, clothespins to make things appear to fit, taped hairlines to raise the eyes, oh, and a little thing called Photoshop. So, get over it! Trust me, if you ever get the chance to have a professional photo shoot, I guarantee you will look just as, if not more, beautiful.

2. Accept that actresses and models are paid to be beautiful
Think about your job. You try hard to be successful, right? If your job is acting or modeling, being beautiful is a major part of it. So, of course you’re going to invest heavily in how you look. After years of working in women’s lifestyle media, I can tell you that many of the celebrities I’ve met don’t get to eat what they want. They have personal nutritionists, chefs, food delivery. They can also spend up to 2-4 hours a day working out. Do you want to/have the means to do that? No? Then don’t let it affect how you see yourself.

3. Answer compliments with a thanks–no more buts
How many times have you responded to a compliment with, “Thanks, but…” No. More. Buts. Learning how to accept a compliment can be tough, but like with any skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll become at it. Look yourself in the mirror every day, say one nice thing and smile when you do it.

4. Pick a feature, own it, praise it
What’s your best physical attribute? Whatever you decide, own it and praise it. My name is Alicia and I like my eyes. Your turn!

5. Realize there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness
Confidence gets a bad rap because it can be construed as ego. This is too bad. Women should be able to feel free to talk about themselves in the positive if the situation calls for it. I’m not saying that you should bring up your gorgeous eyes, shiny hair or toned legs in every conversation, but there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I like my eyes/hair/legs.” Whether you’re genetically blessed or working hard to achieve results, self-pride is not a bad thing. It’s, well, something to be proud of!

Lay it on me: Would you describe yourself as a confident person? Do you think I’m being too hard on my fellow woman?

Alicia Cox ThomsonAlicia Cox Thomson is a writer, digital and social media specialist, and PR consultant with a passion for pop culture, lifestyle and female-friendly content. Follow her @aliciahcox.