Skip appearance-related goals or numbers-based goals like weight or measurements and instead set a fitness goal. Base this goal on physical activity mile markers in order to prioritize how you feel and what your body can do, rather than just what it looks like. Run or swim or bike or walk faster or for longer than ever before. Do a certain number of crunches, new fitness classes, weight-lifting regimens – whatever you can do and enjoy doing consistently. Recruit others to join you and experience the endorphins and rush of adrenaline together as your health improves in the process!
Resist harmful messages in order to take your power back. We have more power than we realize in this fight against objectifying ideals and redefining beauty on our own terms. Resistance to harmful ideas about beauty is a continuous process, but these tips can be exercised daily!
Along with making conscious media choices, you can vote with your dollars by only spending your money at stores and restaurants that don’t use degrading images and messages. Speak up within your circles of influence about messages that distort our ideas about women and beauty.
Resist making appearance-based comments about strangers, celebrities, family members, and even yourself. Instead, use your words for good by making simple statements about the ways beauty is one-dimensional in media or the obvious Photoshopping of female faces and bodies. Those words can have a major impact on those around you who are numb to the normal-seeming devaluation of women all around.
5. Rise with Resilience
Our studies found one bright light at the end of the dark body shame tunnel: body image resilience, which is the ability to harness and use skills to bounce back from difficult disruptions in your life and become stronger than you could have been without those experiences. Disruptions can be anything – a hurtful comment about your body, weight loss/gain, a break-up, a health issue or injury, etc.
Disruptions provide opportunities for growth that are not possible without pain. You always respond to any disruption, so why not respond in ways that will make you feel better about yourself, rather than with harmful coping mechanisms (like abusing alcohol or drugs, cutting, starving, bingeing, purging, or otherwise attempting to hide or fix your body in response to feeling shame).
Several skills, including the ones mentioned above and in the list below, can help women rise with resilience in response to painful body image disruptions. These skills fit into four categories of power you can use in your game plan for building a positive body image.
Social Power: Cultivate this by breaking the silence surrounding negative body image. Unite with other women, be vulnerable, and share your pain to let others help you carry the burden while you help carry theirs.
Mental Power: Harness this by critically considering the ways cultural ideals and media messages can warp how we see our own beauty and worth. Conscious awareness of these degrading messages is the only way to actively resist them.
Spiritual Power: Access this by meditation, prayer, solitude, yoga, etc., to tap into the truth that your life has meaning and purpose beyond living as a decoration for the world.
Physical Power: Gain a more powerful sense of control and self-worth by using your body as an instrument rather than an ornament to be admired.
Let’s recap your path to positive body image, at whatever pace you choose to tackle these steps. RECOGNIZE the many messages directed toward women about beauty, and how many of our thoughts and actions revolve around appearance. Put this into action with a media fast!
1. REFLECT on what impact narrow beauty ideals have had on your life and take inventory of the time, money and energy you dedicate to appearance concerns.
2. REDEFINE beauty and health for yourself in more empowering ways by consciously focusing on how you feel and what your body can do. Set fitness and activity goals and skip the weight and appearance goals!
3. RESIST harmful messages in order to take your power back by turning away from the messages that spark body anxiety, speaking up about harmful media and talking to friends and family about more than their outward beauty.
4. RISE with RESILIENCE by responding to shame-inducing disruptions in ways that exercise your mental, social, spiritual, and physical power, rather than distracting, hiding, or fixing yourself to cope with difficult experiences.
You are more than a body and are capable of so much more than looking hot. Companies profit from convincing you otherwise while peers, family and friends — often unknowingly — uphold and circulate those same profit-driven ideals about beauty, health and women’s value in the ways they speak and act.
By implementing these 5 steps, you will be actively redefining beauty and health for yourself on a mindful and conscious level that prioritizes your own reality, feelings and experiences.
READY, SET, GO!
Originally appeared on Beautyredefined.org