Tomorrow, Oct. 21, is Love Your Body Day, sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation. On this day, NOW wants us all to fight back against images in the media that make us feel bad about our bodies. Instead, we should demand images of real people, of all shapes, colors and ages. And to celebrate our bodies, NOW suggests activities like indulgence parties (a night to wear sweats and eat decadent food without guilt), staging “real women” beauty pageants and watching movies with strong female characters.
Now, I love to watch “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” as much as the next person, but I wish some of NOW’s tips were a bit more practical for actually improving body image. For example, this page suggests canceling magazine subscriptions as soon as offensive ads are run and boycotting shoe manufacturers that dare to make high heels that ruin our feet. For most people, these tips aren’t realistic. While we should speak out against those images that really do offend us, and opt out of things that don’t make us comfortable, like high heels or make-up, most women want a happy medium, in which they feel good about their body while wearing cute, if slightly impractical, shoes. I mean, the models on “Project Runway” are very skinny, but I’m certainly not going to stop watching the show.
So in honor of Love Your Body Day, I found some tips for how to improve body image on a personal level (no boycotting of shoe manufacturers required). A few of them may sound like simple clichés, but sometimes the easiest way is best.
- Treat your body to something nice — new, flattering clothes, a bubble bath, an impromptu dance session, chocolate are but a few ideas.
- Be realistic. There is no “one” standard body size to aspire to, no matter how many times you see a certain body style in a magazine. Remember that if someone’s in a magazine, they’ve probably had tons of help from stylists, trainers and personal chefs. Their appearance is their job. To me, that does not sound like a fun job.
- Consider the things that get you down. Like I said, I’m not going to quit watching “Project Runway” just because of skinny models (catty drama is much more important), but it’s good to be aware of the things that make you feel bad about your body, be it magazines, television shows or your daily weigh-in. Then, you can consider whether these things are worth keeping in your life.
- Keep a list of things you love about yourself that have nothing to do with your appearance. Add to it all the time.
- Work on your appearance from the inside-out — you’ll likely have more things to add to that list I just mentioned if you’re constantly challenging yourself. Not with new diets, but with new hobbies, new responsibilities at work or new friends. An interesting and interested person is a happy, beautiful person, no matter what the scale says.
- Appreciate all the things that your body can do, no matter how basic. If you’re self-conscious about a scar that you got from playing soccer in the fifth grade, be grateful you had the ability to play soccer in the first place.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Almost everyone complains at some point about how their thighs are looking a little big or that a six-pack is turning into a keg, but if there’s a person in your life who’s constantly judging him or herself, then you’ll be more likely to judge yourself.
- Consider your health, not a number on a scale. There are times when people really do need to go on diets and exercise for health reasons, but as long as you’re eating healthfully and exercising regularly, there’s no need to define your life by the numbers, be it a number on a scale or a size in a dress.
What do you guys think? How do you maintain a good body image in this crazy world of ours?