I don’t know about you all, but I am loving the body-positive movement. In case you’re unfamiliar, body positivity is the (seemingly) radical notion that all bodies deserve respect—regardless of shape, size, ability, age, gender or other particulars.
We shouldn’t need the term, but sheesh! Do we ever. Lots of studies show that most women have negative thoughts about their bodies daily, if not many times each day.
These thoughts may seem “normal” and NBD, but they contribute to serious problems, from depression, anxiety and heightened stress to disordered eating and life dissatisfaction. They also place undue value on looks, and less on what really matters.
Growing up, there was no such term. I can’t help but believe that its existence is having a positive impact on many—and possibly even saving some lives.
Last week, I interviewed Melissa Toler, a fab body image coach who knows body-loathing and the freedom from it well. After twenty-five years of compulsive dieting, she found her way to self and body embracement. (Woot!)
I hope you’ll tune in to hear Melissa’s story, plus advice for anyone struggling in this area, below.
Here are a few takeaways I adored:
Change your language.
Words hold power. “Being aware of the words we use and how we use them is critical to how we help people change their thinking around women and body image,” Melissa told me, adding that neutralizing the word “fat” has been vital in her own journey. “We have so many euphemisms for [fat] because it is associated with such negativity—when in reality, it’s just a descriptor.”
Tip: Take inventory of the language you use to discuss people’s appearance, including your own. Are they negative or otherwise hurtful? If so, make conscious efforts to improve them or shift focus.
Decide to see others’ worth.
One huge gift of moving past poor body image is the tendency to see people as people first, versus fat/thin/young/old, etc.
Sure, we still notice how people look; we have brains that perceive. But we can train ourselves to see what matters.
Melissa says she starts from a place of believing that we are all worthy of love, respect and effort. “In our society,” she said, “that is not the general consensus.”
Tip: If you don’t make the conscious decision to see beauty and worth in others, regardless of aesthetics, the world will fill in the blanks. And that is not pretty. When you find yourself placing undue value on looks, think or say, We’re all worthy.
Detoxify your life.
This is one of the most powerful steps we can take to cultivate body-positivity—and it has nothing to do with juice or pills.
If a person, publication, form of entertainment or even place (such as a overly-physique-focused gym) leaves you feeling unattractive and less-than, step away. Surround yourself with only with that which lifts you up.
Tip: Comb through your typical schedule, including people you spend time with. Without overthinking it, jot down how each happening makes you feel. Beside each negative influence, jot down a more empowering alternative you’ll commit to.
If only we could snap our fingers and PRESTO! Body-positivity, in full-gear. In reality, reducing body-negativity takes consistent efforts over time. And as Melissa pointed our in our chat, body image shouldn’t be yet another thing for women to be judged or criticized for.
Tip: Rather than shun yourself for not feeling great about your body, give your inner-child a mental hug. (That may sound a little woo-woo—but it works!) Remind her that she’s beautiful, and that sometimes the heart takes awhile to catch up with logic.
Psst! If you’re looking for a topic for your Beauty of a Woman BlogFest V post, any one of these steps would make for fabulous content! As a reminder, signups start in early April.
Listen to my full chat with Melissa on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or below. You’ll also learn signs your “lifestyle plan” is a risky diet in disguise, how such plans can interfere with your sex life and Dr. Megan Fleming‘s tips on sex positions when you have a retroverted uterus.
Which of these steps could you stand to work on? Any tips you’d add? I love hearing from you!