We all want to look and feel our best. For me that means being as healthy as possible, eating well and getting some exercise, wearing clothes that are at least clean and at most flattering, and taking reasonable care of my skin and hair.
That's it. I think I look and feel just fine for someone in their mid-30s who's given birth to four children. I'm fit enough to keep up with all of them, that's the main thing.
But I fear the messages my daughters will soon be taking in from our culture about what it takes to look and feel good. I hope to never find them flipping through airbrushed models' images in a magazine or on the internet or TV and comparing themselves disparagingly to what they see.
Some time ago I attended a talk given by Melinda Tankard Reist of Collective Shout, which is a grassroots campaign against the objectification of women and children in the media and other public domains.
Melinda gave some tips for a positive body image and I have turned them into 10 steps to a healthy body image.
10 steps to a healthy body image
- People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Focus less on looks and more on functionality. Enjoy what your body can do: dance, sing, run, swim, live!
- Treat your body with respect and love. Nourish it with wholesome food, give it time to rest and relax.
- Don't compare yourself to others - don't play the 'compare and despair' game.
- Don't read magazines or watch shows which are just vehicles for cosmetics and dieting products advertising.
- Make friends with the person you see in the mirror. Challenge negative self-talk about yourself or your body. Don't say something about yourself that you wouldn't say to someone else.
- Wear clothes you enjoy and feel comfortable in - give away anything that doesn't fit.
- Don't diet - it doesn't work and is bad for you.
- Throw away the scales. They tell you little about your true health status.
- Be critical of messages that tell you that to be happy and successful you need to be thin.
- Find healthy things to do with friends. Sign up for volunteer work or join a cause. Our world needs strong women!