Body Image Booster: 5 Ways To Strengthen Your Self-Respect

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Mondays can be rough for many of us, and this doesn’t create the ideal environment for building a better body image. To help you turn that around, every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image – and kick-start the week on a positive note.
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
We know that body image isn’t just about thighs, hips and waists.
At its core, body image is about self-worth and self-respect.

A positive body image goes beyond a few body parts, way beyond fixing the “problem areas.”
It’s about acknowledging that you’re a great person, beautiful, both inside and out. You may not always feel beautiful, but you know you are.
While reading Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls And How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite* It by Robyn Silverman, I came across a great list of tips for cultivating self-respect.
(By the way, the book is fantastic, and I’ve talked about it several times before on Weightless, like herehere and here.)
For years, I was missing a big chunk of self-respect, and my wanting to be thin was my misguided way of thinking that I could get it. As though I had to yearn self-respect – and change myself to have it. (You don’t. You don’t have to yearn it.)
Maybe you were – or are – in a similar place.
But I’ve realized something about self-respect. It’s always there. You just have to access it.
Silverman lists tips for parents to help their daughters practice self-respect. I think they’re just as important for us adults when trying to improve our body image.
  1. Say your “I am’s.” Here, Silverman suggests focusing on positive attributes and saying them as you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. You might say “I am powerful” or “I am beautiful.”
  2. Create a family code. I’ve talked before about my self-deprecating speak in grad school. There were many times when I didn’t even notice how negatively I was talking about myself. Maybe you’re the same way. That’s why it can help for you and your family to create “a word or sound that is made when someone says something negative about themselves.” Try it to build awareness and to reduce your negative talk.
  3. Consider and say out loud one thing you like about yourself. It’s easy to forget our positive attributes, especially if we’re used to swimming in self-doubt, insecurity and a shaky sense of self and body image. We know that our appearance means little when it comes to a positive body image. Our attitude – how we view and feel about our bodies – is in the driver’s seat. Silverman gives the example of “I’m thankful for the curve of my hips.” Thanking your body also helps you view it in a more positive light and makes you realize all the amazing things you do have.
  4. Involve your loved ones in a game of “What I love about you.” I especially love this tip because you’re not only telling the women (and men) in your life how much they mean to you, but you’re also lifting their body image and mood as well. Silverman says, “Sometimes just knowing the special things others see in them is enough to counteract some of the negative things they see in themselves.”
  5. Say three positive statements for every  negative one. It’s one thing to track and reduce your negative thoughts, but counteracting them is a really powerful way to remind yourself of your own beauty – and of the great qualities you do have.
Silverman writes that she hopes these exercises will help girls become “their own cheerleaders, their own best friends, and they can go out into the world fully armed.”
I wish all the same things for you.
Which are your favorite tips from this list? What are your “I am’s” and three positive statements? Please share in the comments!
P.S., I volunteer for a local Florida organization called COPE (Community Outreach for the Prevention of Eating Disorders). We give presentations at middle schools about being a healthy girl in today’s world (i.e., no dieting, loving your body and being a smart consumer of the media).
Next Monday, April 4th, COPE will be showing the documentary “America the Beautiful” at Daytona State College, and several eating disorder specialists from the organization will be leading a discussion afterwards. It’ll take place at the Madorsky Theater from 5 p.m. to 8:00pm.
Unfortunately, I can’t be there, because I’m participating in a webinar on social media and relationships (learn more). But if you’re in the area, I hope you check it out!

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