As the weather gets warmer, social media becomes deluged with advertisements for weight-loss, showing thin, smiling people claiming that a specific type of diet or exercise changed their life for the better. Although there is nothing wrong with eating healthily and exercising regularly, it is no secret that our society often equates a low weight to health and beauty. Common sense tells us that this is absolutely ridiculous. A person can be healthy and attractive at any weight, and we all come in different sizes and shapes.
When it comes to my experience, I know that I’m not alone in the fact that I often felt self-conscious of my appearance and my body while I was growing up. As a biracial woman, I never saw anyone in the media that resembled me – I felt like an alien. Additionally, in high school I was often teased for being shaped “like a boy.” Words hurt, and our society’s narrow perceptions of what makes someone attractive can have long-lasting effects on our confidence and how we view ourselves.
That’s why I think it’s especially great that CAPS will be hosting a workshop next week called, “Embodying Positivity.” This workshop will take place on Tuesday, 5/19/2015 from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in College Nine’s Namaste Lounge. Participants will engage in a body-positive activity and discussion to promote compassion and love for oneself and body esteem. CAPS counselors Susan Gulbe-Walsh, PhD, and Kristin Sergeant, PhD, will facilitate the workshop. This workshop is open to everybody, and you should definitely stop by! In the meantime, I encourage you to check out this list for advice on improving your body image! I found these steps on the National Eating Disorder Association’s website and I think it’s a really great read:
- Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
- Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
- Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
I hope you have a wonderful day and stay positive!