Love your Body Month

Written by Hannah Page, MEd, LAPC, NCC

lyb-love-your-body

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!

Raising your Child to be Body Positive

body-positiveWritten by Hannah Page, MEd, LAPC, NCC

People don’t just decide to hate their bodies—they learn this from society. In today’s world, children have more access to social media, blogs, and websites, and research indicates that this results in increasing amounts of eating disorders, negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and self-hatred. According to the National Association of Eating Disorders, 81% of 10 year-olds are fearful of being fat. In fact, children as young as 7 years old are suffering from eating disorders. Babies and young children look in the mirror constantly because they LOVE how they look and are fascinated by the things their bodies can do! When did it become ok for children to stop loving their bodies? As a parent, caregiver, or anyone who is working with children…we can all help to raise kids who love themselves and teach them to be body positive. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Model a Positive Attitude towards your OWN Body & Others.
  • Parents who complain about their appearance and weight, even casually, make a big impact on how children view their own bodies. Verbalize loving your own body, and avoid talking negatively about your appearance/ weight/ size in front of your children. When you put down your own body in front of your kids, you are giving your kids the message that it is ok to not like themselves. We want our kids to grow to love every part of themselves! Avoid making statements such as, “Gosh, I have gained so much weight”, or “I was skinny like you when I was a kid, what happened to me?” Instead make positive comments such as, “I feel healthy and happy today!”
  • Look around your home and ask yourself if the products, images, and objects you have in your home model body positivity. Do you have diet products lying around? Scales in the bathrooms? Magazines or books about dieting or getting your dream body? Kids pick up on these things.
  • If you are a parent and want to diet, that is completely ok! Modeling a balanced diet and moderate exercise in front of your children is healthy and can help them learn how to nourish their own bodies. If you are watching your weight and what you eat, avoid putting negative labels on food, e.g., “I can’t eat that ice cream, it will make me fat.” Instead, model portion control and eating a variety of food (even those you may consider a “treat”) in moderation. If you are struggling to model balanced eating, it may be beneficial to seek help from a nutritionist or a therapist.
  1. Compliment Inner Traits.
  • Rather than complimenting others on their outer appearance, compliment your child and others on their behaviors, talents, and inner traits. For example, instead of saying “Your friend is so cute.” say, “Your friend was so kind when she let you borrow her bike.”
  • When watching TV with your kids, ask them questions to promote empathy. If your child is watching a TV show and a character makes fun of another character’s appearance, ask “How do you think that made the other person feel when he called her ugly?” By promoting empathy, you are helping your child understand how hurtful negative and judgmental comments may feel to others. You are also helping your child to regulate their emotional responses that they have with others.
  • Instead of commenting to your child on how slim they may be (such as, “You boys are so lucky to be thin.”), make statements such as, “Your strong body allows you to do so many things like play football.”
  1. Be Open with your Child and Talk it Out.
  • If you notice your child talking negatively about their body or if you notice them judging their bodies nonverbally (staring at self in the mirror, standing on the scale excessively, etc.), take this as an opportunity to talk with your child about how they are feeling and teach body positivity in the process.
  • First, LISTEN to your child’s feelings and validate, validate, validate. If your child says to you, “I feel fat,” or “I’m so ugly,” your first instinct may be to fix what they are saying. For example, many parents, trying to remind their children of how much they love them, say things like, “You aren’t fat!” or “You are perfect!” Although your child’s statements may seem untrue to you, they may seem true and real to your child. For this reason, it’s important to validate their statements and let them know you understand how they are feeling. Validating their statement does not mean agreeing. For example, you might say, “I understand you are feeling really upset right now.” Validating their feelings helps them know that they can talk to you about how they feel, even when they feel negative about their looks.

Parents and all caregivers, you can help address this issue and raise kids that are body positive! 

For more information, the following post summaries current research in this area and provides practical suggestions: http://binge-on-this.com/2016/02/21/neda-week-2016-day-one-eating-disorder-statistics/