Written by Hannah Page, MEd, LAPC, NCC
February is a wonderful month for many reason… Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, National Pancake Day (you heard me! It falls on the 17th for those of you who did not know), and most importantly, February is Love Your Body Month. Love Your Body Month is such a fabulous month because we get to celebrate every BODY and encourage everyone to accept and love who they are from the inside out!
Recently, I attended a “Body, Beauty, Bravery” event led by therapist Alison Cross. Alison asked all of us in attendance a question that really stuck with me. Alison asked us, “Can you think of three people in your lives who truly love and accept themselves and their bodies, I mean who REALLY, TRULY, and accept their bodies.” The room got quiet, and I thought very hard. Sadly, I could only think of one person in my life who I believe truly loves and accepts themselves…and this made me feel very, very sad.
Why doesn’t everyone love themselves? Don’t we deserve to be proud of who we are and embrace our beautiful unique selves? Unfortunately, in today’s world it is difficult to practice self-love, and often, society makes us feel guilty for loving ourselves.
In the grocery store checkout line, there are numerous magazines on the shelves with body shaming messages. All over the media, there are advertisements and articles promoting “the miracle diet you have all been waiting for!”, or “15 ways to lose 20 pounds in one month!” Even when I am out with a group of friends, there is often one person that says something along the lines of “I shouldn’t eat this…I ate too much yesterday.” There are endless examples showing how our culture promotes body shaming and negativity, but I won’t list them all today. The point is, we are constantly surrounded by messages telling us we aren’t good enough, we must lose 5 more pounds, or we must look like that model on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
I would LOVE for us to live in a culture where only self-love is promoted and discussed, and where the magazine headlines on the shelves only were things like “100 ways to practice self-love!” We have so many reasons to love and appreciate our individual unique assets that make us who we are! I truly believe that everyone in this world is beautiful, inside and out. Let’s celebrate our differences and the numerous qualities we each have that make us undeniably beautiful. There are many things that we can all do to help encourage everyone to rebuild and reclaim a positive body image and increase self-worth:
- Write positive affirmations on cards or on your mirror to combat the negative things you are saying to yourself: This is one of my favorite things to do with clients of all ages. An affirmation is simply positive self-talk. It is a statement about ourselves or a situation, phrased in the present tense as if the statement is already true. To begin creating your own personal affirmations, do the following: 1. Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs 2. Create positive affirmations out of those beliefs 3. Begin using the new positive affirmation. An example may be “I love my body as it is today”.
- Go on a Social Media Detox: Social media can be great, but it can also be a “social comparison” trap. According to social comparison theory, we compare ourselves in attempt to make accurate evaluations of ourselves…however, this can be extremely damaging to our self-worth. “When you compare the worst parts of your life to everyone else’s highlights, you always lose.”-actress Regina Jackson. Unfollow accounts that make you feel less than, and block content related to dieting and the ideal appearance.
- Practice Radical Self -Care: As adults, employees, parents, etc- we are busy! It is so important to schedule ways to be kind to your body every single week. For some people, self-care may be spending an hour on a nature hike, or going to get your nails done, or scheduling a time to watch your favorite movie with your favorite snack.
- Practice Non-Judgement: When you are out and about running errands, or when you are watching TV, practice seeing beauty in ALL people of every shape and size. You may notice yourself begin to judge; try to recognize this as a cultural bias and find the beauty that is there.
- Start One Sentence Journaling: We are busy people and finding time to write pages of information in a journal can be difficult. One sentence journaling is quick and effective. Practice writing one positive thing you like about yourself or something you accomplished every night. You can always go back and read all the positive sentences you wrote, which is so rewarding!
If you would like more information on how to celebrate Love your Body Month, and how to encourage others to Love Their Bodies, please visit the following link: http://www.myedin.org/lybm.html . There are so many fun, exciting events going on this month to promote body positivity!