Since moving to Victoria, BC this spring, I’ve been getting a sense of what other therapists specialize in and sharing my areas of specialty with other therapists over tea. Such fun! One topic that always comes up is eating disorders and women’s problematic relationship with food and their bodies, as this is one of my main specialties.
Inevitably, I get asked the same question again and again: “How do you help women accept their bodies exactly as they are?” Or in my words: helping women to learn to love ‘the skin they’re in’…
So in this article, I’d like to share my tips for doing just that which come from my book, It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies. If you find this helpful, please forward it on to someone else who could use it and start supporting your sisters out there by becoming ‘Body Image Warriors’. It makes a huge difference! Also, if you would like to share your stories and tips about loving your body regardless of shape or size, please send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish the ones I feel will be of help to my readers.
Esther’s “Top 10” Tips for Loving Your Body:
- Focus on what magnificent things your body allows you to DO, rather than how it LOOKS.
- Keep an index card in your wallet or day timer with a list of 10 positive things about yourself, excluding physical attributes. Read it over when you get “fat head”.
- Wear clothes you like that feel comfortable, especially materials that feel luxurious against your skin.
- Throw out your “thin clothes”! Only keep clothes that fit you really nicely NOW and get rid of “the ones I’ll wear when I’m ____ size again.”
- Do the activities you love to do regardless of your shape and size- don’t stop doing what you love because of what you look like on the outside!
- Hang out with others who aren’t obsessed with their size and shape and what they eat; but those who focus more on enjoying the fabulous gift that is called life instead.
- Remind yourself that you are beautiful exactly as you are because you are a child of the Creator/God/The Universe/__________(fill in the blank!)
- Move your body in ways that leave you feeling strong, exhilarated, flexible, and centered and do it regularly.
- Learn to tune into your body: Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Get out and move when your body needs it.
- Stop reading fashion magazines and following movie stars, thinking they’ve got perfect lives. They don’t- most of them have full-blown eating disorders. Find alternative publications that celebrate and honour women for all aspects of their being.
Learn to Love ‘the Skin You’re In’ Exercises:
Write a list of ten positive things about yourself, excluding physical attributes. Copy this page out onto an index card and keep it in your wallet or day timer or somewhere else where you will notice it daily.
Write about what clothes you like that feel comfortable, especially materials that feel luxurious against your skin.
Homework: start wearing them regularly and notice how you feel in them.
Make a list of the clothes you own that make you feel bad about your body when you look at them or wear them.
Homework: give them to your favourite charity and for each item you get rid of, replace it with a piece of clothing that you wrote about in the previous question.
Write a list of all of the physical activities you enjoy doing but avoid because of how you look.
Homework: Do one of them!