Last week I talked about how it’s way too common for women to trash-talk their bodies–and other women’s bodies, too. It’s one thing to say you want to accept your body instead of complaining about it. But how to make the leap to actually doing it?
Focus on what your body can do, and not just on what it looks like.
This is not new advice. Some of you have been hearing it for years, especially if you’re tuned in to the continuing discussion about how we as a society can help our young girls have a healthy body image.
Parents and other role models are being encouraged more and more to point our daughters this direction. Lisa McMinn sums it up nicely:
“When parents replace critical comments about themselves or others on the basis of beauty with comments about the strength and wonder of bodies that can run, lift, do intricate tasks, smell, taste, and hear, they redeem a cycle that encourages daughters to identify with the marvelous good of their bodies.”
But really, this advice should apply not just to little girls, but to women of all ages.
Because no matter how much we grown-ups know in our heads we should accept our bodies instead of criticizing them, it’s very hard to just “fix” a negative body image in an instant. Your mind needs a compelling reason to turn from condemnation to acceptance:
Focus on what your body can do. This is not the only path, but it’s a good one.
My own experience at the gym helped me with this one. Form follows function, and strong women often have decidedly non-supermodel-esque muscles. Do you remember these classic 2005 Nike ads?
“My butt is big and round like the letter C and ten thousand lunges have made it rounder but not smaller. And that’s just fine.” You get the idea. (Visit this site if you can’t read the text.)
But you don’t have to be a serious athlete to appreciate what your body can do. Can you “do intricate tasks, smell, taste, and hear?” That’s what our bodies are for!
My advice? Take a portfolio approach to your body. It’s okay to want your body to look nice. But when you think about your body, focus on function as well as appearance: you’ll be much healthier, happier, and saner.
Our culture desperately needs female role models to show us what it looks like for a women to have a healthy relationship with her body. (Have you read the news this week? Airbrushing and retouching and photoshopping, oh my!)
So here’s the challenge: think about your own body. Where is your focus?