Cultivating a positive and loving body image is essential to well-being and happiness. It takes a healthy mindset to reach self acceptance. Many feel pressured to obtain a certain social and/or cultural ideal of beauty, especially given the onslaught of images depicting “idealized” bodies in the media.(Check out our recommended reading below for more information about beauty and body image.)
Other pressures can come from the people in your life, like family and friends. They can have a huge impact on how you feel about your own body, either with positive or not-so-positive comments about certain body types (including their own bodies). That said, it is possible to establish a loving relationship with your own body, no matter what shape or size. Here are some actions you can take to get started (and here are some poems about body image from Power Poetry's awesome users):
- Research. What (or who) influences you the most? Are there certain people you talk to or shows you watch that heavily impact how you feel about yourself, positively or negatively? It’s common to compare yourself to others you know or admire (celebrities included!). Think about how certain people and images impact your life--then you can begin to focus on the people and resources who help you feel positive.
- Create. Look for safe spaces where you are free to speak openly and feel comfortable in your own skin. This space should provide healthy messages about all bodies, regardless of color, shape, size, or anything else. If it is difficult to find this space near you, create it--bring together friends and people you trust to make this a place where others feel comfortable too.
- Transform. Learning and practicing to eliminate negative pressures and ideas about how you should look is an important step in creating positive and healthy self-esteem. In order to begin changing the societal pressures and expectations of beauty and perfection, you should think about how you can love your body rather than how you are told to love your body. Writer, bell hooks, dares her reader to view love (self-love included) as revolutionary and courageous. In her series, Communion: The Female Search for Love, she addresses how love can help create positive sentiments towards one’s body. Focus on finding messages that instill self-love for you.
- Think. Everyone has her/his own perspective and idea on what a healthy body is. Everyone is different, and those differences should be celebrated, not criticized. Create an ethic with your body in which you promise to accept and love it unconditionally and ensure your safe space is shared by others in your group.
- Get started. Do things that leave you feeling positive and surround surround yourself with people who love themselves--the people you spend time with impacts the way you see yourself greatly. Writer, Arundhati Roy, shares her view on beauty and love.
- Power Poetry. You always have an outlet on PowerPoetry.org--write about your feelings towards your body, positive or negative. It’s important to share your experiences with others for support. Think about any challenges you face and what tools you or people you know have used to help develop a healthy, positive attitude towards body image.
- Miss Representation trailer
- Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model. TED Talk by Cameron Russell
- What Ashley Benson Gets Wrong About Beauty. PolicyMic article written in reaction to actress Ashley Benson's response to photoshopped images of herself and her PLL costars.
- Interview with Michael Kimmel on masculinity and body image. From TheFBomb.
- Lorde tweets on photoshopped images of herself.
- Queer Women of Color Speak on Fashion and Body Image: What Makes You Feel Beautiful? from QWOC Media.
- The Body is Not An Apology. Awesome website focused on radical self-love and empowerment.
- 11 Body Image Heros of 2013. From HuffPost Women.
- Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people. From Salon.
- Interview with Activist and Author bell hooks on body image and media representations. From the Media Education Foundation.
- Maybe She's Born With It? Or Maybe She Just Bleached The Heck Out Of Herself. from Upworthy.