It’s hard to buck the system when you’re deluged with messages of "thin" from television, film, commercials, the media, and even friends and family. At a recent barbecue, I noticed how many people actually mentioned that they weren’t going to eat a lot, or how delicious – but rich (aka fattening) – everything looked, or that they would have to work out extra hard at the gym the next day. And for one instant, I began to become self-conscious about the food that was on my plate. I wondered – just for a moment – what everyone would think of the portions and selections I had made.
Then I got real and snapped out of it. I’ve been down that road too many times to let myself end up there again: it’s a dead end of insecurity and anxiety, and probably compulsive overeating. I reflected on Independence Day, and what personal freedom really means, especially in regards to modern day society and weight. To me, that’s fostering a healthy body image by accepting myself and my food choices.
This holiday, declare independence from stereotypes and celebrate by freeing your spirit! Here is a wonderful list of actions and attitudes from The National Eating Disorders Association that can help you with your own mini-revolution:
- Consciously choose to avoid making comments about other people or yourself on the basis of body size or shape.
- Compliment someone else for a skill, talent, or characteristic they have that you appreciate. Remind yourself that a person’s value is not determined by their shape or size.
- Enjoy your favorite meal without feelings of guilt or anxiety over calories and fat grams.
- Donate your jeans and other old clothes that no longer fit your body comfortably to charity. Someone else will appreciate them, and you won’t have to worry about the way they fit anymore.
- Start each morning by looking in the mirror and saying something nice about yourself out loud.
- Put away or throw away your bathroom scale.
- Look through magazines and newspapers, ripping out advertisements, photos and articles that promote negative feelings about weight, body image and food. Talk back to the TV when you see or hear an ad that makes you feel dissatisfied with your body.
- Read a book that lifts your self-esteem, promotes positive body image, encourages healthy living or helps you overcome stereotypes about social standards of beauty.
- If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, take the time to reassure them of your friendship and support for their recovery process.
- Throw out all of the diet products in your house.
- Remind yourself and others that It’s What’s Inside That Counts!
By Laura Brooks