Every day, thousands of advertisements force women and young girls to compare themselves to models that are tall, slender, fair-skinned and digitally altered. “And failure to live up to them is inevitable,” says filmmaker, author and ad critic Jean Kilbourne. “Because they are based on a flawlessness that doesn’t exist,” Hollywood’s biggest celebrities battle this myth of perfection, too. “You have to look past it—you look how you look, and be comfortable,” says movie star Jennifer Lawrence. “I think we’ve gotten so used to underweight that when you are a normal weight it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, she’s curvy.’ Which is crazy.” Following these useful tips can help you combat the insanity.
The star of the Hunger Games movies is the first to admit that her lifestyle is hardly normal. For her roles in action films, Lawrence works out with a trainer for several hours a day. “Everybody says, ‘We love that there is somebody with a normal body!’’ she told Vogue magazine recently. “And I’m like, ‘I don’t feel like I have a normal body.’ I do Pilates every day. I eat, but I work out a lot more than a normal person.”
What is Normal?
Last year, Kilbourne told an audience at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health that we need to transform the way we think about what ‘normal’ means. She said that instead of focusing on weight or BMI, young girls need to shift their focus to optimum health and having energy. “If we learn to eat healthy, natural, preferably local food, with pleasure, and if we exercise with pleasure, our bodies will get to the weight and shape and size that they were genetically meant to be.”
Forget About Perfection
There’s no real need for most teens and adults to waste time working on perfecting themselves, insists author Francie M. Berg. Perfection doesn’t really exist, anyway, she reminds us. In her book, Children and Teens Afraid to Eat: Helping Youth in Today’s Weight-Obsessed World, she offers an alternative- practical steps to self-acceptance. Here’s an edited and shortened version of her body positive tips:
Know that you are OK just as you are.
Get comfortable with the real you, inside and out. Accept your size and shape, your feelings, yourself, unconditionally. Honor your character, talents and achievements. Instead of trying to meet society’s impossible standards of female beauty, give yourself affirmations on how special you really are.
Recognize that beauty, health, and strength come in all sizes.
It’s about being friendly, generous and loving, having strength and courage, and respecting yourself just as you are -goals that we all can achieve.
Realize that your body size is OK.
You can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk. Recognize how destructive the obsession to be thin is and how much it harms the people you love, especially teens and adolescents. Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth.
Be Size Positive
Set an example of respect for size diversity. Be a role model who radiates confidence, self-respect and friendliness for other adults and teens who may fear going out in public. Our society is currently obsessed with thinness, which hurts us all.
Dress for success.
Dress in ways that make you feel good, that make your own statement and, most of all, in clothes that fit now. Rid your closet of outfits that don’t fit. This makes room for clothes you will enjoy wearing.
Want what you already have.
The secret to happiness is not to get what you want, but to want what you have. Though much underrated today, contentment has long been valued in world religions and philosophy.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Have you inventoried the richness of your life assets? Write down three things you are grateful for in your journal. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, country, health, work and the wonder of nature are all around us.
Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
Stress overload is linked to many health problems, such as exhaustion, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, depression, substance abuse, increased risk of heart attack and a weakened immune system. Relaxing is like re-booting a stressed-out computer.
Set aside time every day for yourself. Invest in small things that enrich your life: listening to music, reading a novel, napping after lunch, laughing with your spouse or best friend, eating a nourishing meal, telephoning a friend, taking a stretch break at your desk, or enjoying a sunset.
Strengthen your social support groups.
Maintain nurturing relationships with family and friends. Encourage positive self-talk, praise and support for each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network.
Live a balanced life.
Normalize your life by being regularly active and keeping yourself well nourished without dieting. Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it or struggle for perfection.
At Center For Discovery, Health Comes in All Sizes
If someone you love is struggling with the symptoms of an eating disorder or serious mental health disorder, Center For Discovery can help. We’ve been guiding families to long-lasting recovery for nearly 20 years. Our personalized behavior modification programs are tailored to fit your needs. Center For Discovery provides multi-faceted levels of care that range from residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, to partial hospitalization for adults, adolescents, and teens that suffer from eating disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, self-harm behaviors, gender identity, oppositional defiant disorder, and most mental health disorders.
Harvard – Chan School of Public Health: Advertising’s toxic effect on eating and body image, by Amy Roeder. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
Healthy Weight Network: Self Esteem / Body Image, Size Positive. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
Children and Teens Afraid to Eat: Helping Youth in Today’s Weight-Obsessed World, by Frances M. Berg. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
Harpers Bazaar – Jennifer Lawrence: Truth and Beauty, by Laura Brown. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
Written By: Center for Discovery