The title of this blog post sounds a little terrible, right? I actually ripped off the title from the name of a book that I recently came across!! And for the record, the book is anything but terrible :). Dara Chadwick has written a book called You'd Be So Pretty If...: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies--Even When We Don't Love Our Own, and she also writes a blog with the same title. She recently posted a few tips for modeling positive body image that I want to share because I think they are great. I would also like to point out that even if you are not a mother, or you are a mother and do not have daughters, this information is still really applicable. We may not have daughters (who are therefore influenced by the views we have of our own bodies), but we certainly impact the people in our lives (especially and specifically other women) based on the ways that we see ourselves. It is interesting to consider how learning to accept ourselves can actually help others to accept themselves as well.
So, while this may sound easier in theory than in practice (like a LOT of things!), here are five things that you can try (compliments of Dara Chadwick), that no matter how you feel about your body, may help you learn self-acceptance, as well as model it to others!
1: Silence the Critic. If you tend to say negative things about your body, criticize certain features you dislike or are not comfortable with, or make jokes about yourself, stop. Whenever you notice that you are doing this, stop yourself.
2: Act "as if." Imagine how you might feel or act differently if you were your ideal size or shape. Would you participate in different activities? Say hello to more people? Buy a certain style of clothing? If so, act out your feelings or engage in those activities and see if you notice a change in how you feel or how others respond to you. (Hint- you most likely will!)
3: Choose one thing. Focus on making one healthy choice each day- whether it is eating your breakfast, taking the stairs up one floor instead of the elevator, etc..
4: Be OK with change. Focus on being the healthiest, most content version of yourself that you can be. We all change as we get older, and as we go through different life experiences, our bodies change. Appreciating what our bodies do for us, considering the purposes that our arms/legs/hips/etc serve, and recognizing how functional they are can help us to accept our bodies/body parts rather than criticize them.
5: Find your own body image role models. Find women who model a healthy, positive attitude that you admire and respect. Maybe it's Scarlett Johansson, Kate Winslet, a friend who exudes confidence and charm, or a friend whose personal style you admire. By holding up a role model of unattainable perfection, we struggle to accept ourselves because we are never able to reach this ideal.
While change is often tough because it requires extra effort, energy, and a lot of extra thought, I believe it is worth it. It is worth it for us to accept ourselves, to feel good about ourselves and our bodies, and to encourage other women (friends, sisters, daughters) to accept themselves as well. For more on Dara Chadwick, follow this link.