I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Lane Bryant ad circulating on social media.
And while the message of plus acceptance is something I have rallied behind for the past decade, this morning I had a hard time associating myself as one of these women.
I watch the glamazons in the Plus Is Equal campaign and admire both their bravery and beauty as they strut their stuff in national ad campaign for the largest plus-size retailer, Lane Bryant. They are each gorgeous, flawless and idols to women of a larger size like myself.
So this morning when my boyfriend complimented my body, I had a knee-jerk reaction of shrugging him off. It’s especially fitting since today I’m dressed from head to toe in Lane Bryant fashion items. From my bra and boyshorts by Cacique to my Lane Bryant-branded pencil skirt, tank and half-sleeve jacket, I’m a walking billboard. Today, I’m feeling casually elegant, super confident and a bit naughty.
So why shrug him off?
Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?
I’m sure all women have this issue. We become obsessed by parts of our body that we don’t feel are adequate enough, and we project all our negativity toward ourselves. For me, size has always been my concern. I target hate toward my arms and my stomach. So I was instantaneously forced to look and ask myself why I couldn’t see my own body in the same light that I saw the “Plus Is Equal” campaign woman.
For all we want to post on social media about self-acceptance, it’s easy to fall back into centuries old body shaming practices. We’ve been raised to sit up straight, project our chest, whittle down our waists, plump our lips, shave our unwanted hair, grown our head hair long and luxurious, wear heels to elongate our legs…and blah, blah, blah. There are so many expectations on our appearance that it’s easy to fall into self-sabotage comparing ourselves to these widely accepted, often contradicting, standards.
No matter how many memes we post, no matter how many compliments we get, no matter what our level of self-confidence seems to be…the one thing we can count on is that ALL women harbor the same kinds of doubts about themselves. It’s an unspoken rule.
So what are the rules to accepting ourselves with so many lingering self-doubts?
According to NEMA (National Eating Disorders Association), there are 10 tips for body acceptance.
- Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
- Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
- Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
And while these all seem well and good, they are each a monsoon of emotional baggage for most women. Today I battled with #4 but any given day…
Which of these do you battle with most on a daily basis?