Back in July, I read an article featuring actress Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of actor Will Smith, in which she expressed some of her thoughts and feelings about the importance of having a healthy body image. She emphasized how important it is for women to celebrate and love our bodies. In the interview, she discussed the magazine cover shoot she did for Essence in which she appeared wearing nothing. She said that she did this because she wanted to be an example for younger women, especially her daughter, to demonstrate what it looks like to have a healthy body image and to love and accept our bodies.
My question: Since when is celebrating your body and feeling good about it equivalent to being nude on the cover of a magazine? This article wasn't the first time I have noticed this implicit conclusion that is often drawn about the degree to which we physically expose ourselves and how much we accept our bodies. The whole idea makes zero sense to me. There are a lot of ways to love your body and model positive body image to young women (and daughters!!) outside of what you wear. Having a healthy body image is a state of mind, not just what you put on (or don't put on) when you wake up in the morning. Just because you may not want to get naked on the cover of a magazine (or wear short shorts, a tight dress, etc) does not mean that you don't love or accept your body!
This raises the question- What does having healthy body image really look like? As women, we are sometimes critical of our bodies and we may not always feel comfortable baring skin in certain outfits or in skimpy bathing suits. But some of us do. And sometimes that has to do with our body image, but sometimes it doesn't! So what does it mean to have a healthy body image? I think that healthy body image means that you can accept yourself and your body for what it is, and that you are able to acknowledge the beauty that exists inside and out. Just because you may wake up one morning not feeling so hot does not mean that you can't still accept your body and appreciate all that it does for you.. It can be a challenge some days but practicing healthy body image can go a long way! How we think about ourselves impacts how we feel, and how we feel often impacts how we behave and act. So how do we work on improving our body image??
Here is a short list of ideas that help promote healthy body image:
1. Focus on what your body does for you, rather than what size you wear or what the scale says.
2. Don't let your body hold you back from engaging in activities or participating in social activities that you might otherwise. If how you feel about your body is interfering with those things, you probably don't accept your body!
3. Be discriminating with what you are looking at (media images, TV, magazines, etc) and what you are reading. It is important to think and observe critically so that you know what is realistic and what is not. Real bodies are what make women beautiful! You don't really see that much in the media!