Up to 80% of women are unhappy with what they see in the mirror according to research published by the Social Issues Research Centre. Learning to hate our flaws and bodies starts from a young age and is programmed by popular culture and societies endless pursuit for thinness.
I’m on a mission to break the body bashing cycle.
I’ve put together my top 10 tips to help young women* find their way back to loving (or at the very least accepting) their body the way it is. You’ll be amazed at how great you can feel, how many new opportunities and experiences you are open to when you aren’t so hung up worrying about what others might be thinking about your body.
*these tips are suitable for ALL women – take what you need and adapt as necessary!
1. Drop the Shade
Don’t be a shady with yourself, if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend then girrrrl what-ya doing saying it to yourself? Stop it! Call a truce. Take note of your internal dialogue – if you’re being a nasty gal, try rephrasing what you’re saying to something positive and beautiful. You hear me?
2. Don’t pass judgement on anyone’s body
Passing judgement on another body or chit chatting with others about someones appearance (even if they want to) is unhelpful. To break the cycle of body bashing we need to move away from constantly talking about so-and-so’s booty or thigh gap.
By the way….. this takes practice! Don’t expect to be perfect right away, start to notice when you’re being a nasty gal about someone else’s body (or your own), and aim to be neutral.
You got this!
3. Don’t allow anyone to body shame you
Whether intentional or not, you can be body shamed one of two ways: directly “You are too fat to wear a bikini” or indirectly “you’re ordering the pasta?! Don’t you think you should be ordering a salad?”.
Regardless, nip-that-shiz-in-the-bud. You like the bikini? Great, wear it. You want to order pasta for dinner (but someone’s suggested you “should” have a salad). Phooey! Order the pasta, enjoy it.
If someone is being shady, call them into line and ask that they respect your body just the same way you respect theirs. Your body is not table talk, it’s not up for discussion or to be commented on. (PS. You don’t need to be sassy, like Doug the Pug, just explain how you feel).
4. Focus on what you do like
All too often we look in the mirror and focus on the flaws or bits we don’t like. Shift your focus to what you do like about yourself. (hey….maybe your eyebrows are on fleek!).
Practice being thankful for what you do like for the next week or so.
5. Ditch your Scales
Scales are literally the worst thing ever to happen to women’s body image the world over! They weigh you. Your entire being. Muscle, bones, water, all 1.5kg of your gut bacteria (seriously), your blood, your organs, AND YOUR FAT. But we conveniently forget all of this and accept the number of the scales to represent just our fatness and allow it to be a measure of our self worth.
Scales are a numerical reflection of your interaction with gravity. They don’t measure your intelligence, sassiness, sense of humour, passion, drive, determination, kindness or any of the hundreds of other beautiful qualities we possess as women.
My advice to anyone trying to learn to love their body or heal their relationship with food?
THROW THE SCALES OUT (or better yet take them outside and smash them up #empowered)
6. Learn how to graciously accept a compliment
In general, we suck at accepting compliments – often playing the humble card… “oh no, I’m not…!” (Kiwi girls we’ve got the added challenge of tall poppy syndrome!).
Women and girls tend to deflect compliments, argue with them or try to immediately return a compliment with a bigger compliment (ok giiirrl, this ain’t no compliment competition).
Not sure how to accept a compliment without feeling icky? Then you should read this short how-to-guide.
7. Appreciate how bad-ass your body is and all the things it can do
Instead of tearing it down, focus on all the things your body can do and allows you to do on a daily basis. Keep a journal or notepad handy and jot down one or two things each day your body has allowed you experience. Say thanks!
8. Exercise to feel good not to look better
Choose movement you love. (We have a saying in my house: If you don’t love it don’t eat it, if you love it, savour it). Just like food, your exercise choices should have you excited to be moving. If you dread the gym, or pounding away on a treadmill it’s simple…. don’t do it. Do something else, sign up for social sports team, walk the dog, walk with friends, join a sports club, go to yoga or swim. Don’t force yourself to exercise in a way that doesn’t make you happy. You will dread it and there ain’t no fun it that!
9. Don’t compare your body
Ever heard the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy”? Never has it been more true than when talking about bodies!
Learn to look at others, seek out their greatest asset and feel great for them without feeling inadequate or jealous. We weren’t designed to all look the same, we have unique features and assets and we ought to learn to embrace others beauty whilst still feeling good in our own body.
10. Join a Girl Gang
Hah!…. not an Orange is the New Black kinda Girl Gang.
Your Girl Gang should be all about building you up and supporting each other. Life’s too short to hang around with energy vampires. Your squad is supposed to make you sparkle.
Surround yourself with others who share common interests…. after all you become the company you keep.
Don’t settle for Regina’s.
Here’s my girl gang and these gals rock.
If you know someone in your life who NEEDS to read this then I’d love you to share it with them!