Real Body Image Solutions for Women
Before you can love your body you have to love yourself, and loving yourself starts with loving who you are on the inside.
Love grows outward, not inward.
This can be a tricky concept to believe in a world that places so much emphasis on our external appearance.
The truth is: what you look like is secondary to who you are. A perfect example is a fashion model or celebrity who is “beautiful” according to society, but who is fundamentally unhappy on the inside.
She has the "right" look but she is not able to truly love herself because she doesn't look within.
Our external appearance doesn’t create fulfillment or happiness. Our exterior is simply packaging; it is what we wrap around who we really are and it isn’t the secret to true happiness.
Most advertisers and fashion magazines would like you to believe otherwise because it makes them very, very rich.
When I modeled with Elite, the compliments I heard were empty: “Oh darling, you are beautiful; you’re stunning…”
They meant little to me because I’d grown up with a family that valued who I was. And because of this, I was able to avoid the pitfalls many models became ensnared in: linking their self-worth to their appearance.
Their life revolved around the pursuit of external beauty, which in itself, does not feed our souls.
Some of my tips for loving your body:
- Start closest to your heart and move outward. To love the outer-you and be comfortable in your skin, you must love and approve of who you are first. Who you are doesn’t have a weight, height, skin color, hair or eye color. Those are descriptions of your outward appearance. If you identify yourself as your body first -- then you will be at the mercy of the media’s definition of happiness.
- Identify what’s keeping you from loving yourself. When coaching girls and women about body-image, I’ve discovered that the root of their issue is never about their looks. It starts off with things like “I hate my body or I am too fat/ugly.” But when we dig deep, it’s always about being loved, being worthy or being seen for who they are. Their weight and appearance issue were only a symptom of the main ‘glitch’ or obstacle.
- Make a Love Letter List. Write all the things you love about yourself. Pin it up somewhere in your home so you will see it daily. Include things other people love about you. Add to it as often as you wish.
- Get outside, in nature. Hike, walk, swim, cycle, and take time to sit under a tree and listen. Listen inward. Listen to nature, it has so much to share. Remember to move your body, love it by keeping it strong and healthy. Find a fun activity that also gives your body exercise to maintain a healthy heart, lungs and muscles.
- Notice negative self-talk. We can beat ourselves up by our thoughts alone. When you catch negative self-talk happening, stop for a moment and upgrade it with loving feelings. This is not the same a positive thinking, because the next step is to dig into the negative self-talk with love, and find out where it is coming from. Play detective and get to the bottom about why you believe this about yourself. Ask yourself questions and answer them, honestly. For example: Why did you invent that you weren’t good enough? Why are you not worthy of being loved or receiving love? Every child is worthy of love. So what happened in your life that tricked you to believe you were not worthy? When did you start believing or feeling this way? How do you feel about not being worthy? Get real with yourself and figure out what caused you to believe these things. Then make new choices, and re-write your beliefs.
- Love your body through healthy food choices. Your body is the reason you are alive. Take care of it. The fuel you choose will determine how well your body operates.
- Master your mood. We have good days and tough days. Emotions play a major role so be mindful of days when your emotions are intense or unsettling. Take note of when this happens (learn what triggers them) and you will better learn the ebb and flow of your emotions and master them with greater ease instead of feeling tossed about. Another emotional rocker is stress. Stress about work, health, finances, relationships, etc. We all have our share in varying degrees. We do have a choice about how we react or respond to stress. Find stress-reducing techniques that work for you. For me, a walk in nature is vital or I think of a few things I feel grateful for.
- Give thanks. Gratitude is a healing attitude. It’s magical. It reduces stress which slows the aging process! Find a handful of things you are truly grateful for every day. Being alive, having a job, being healthy, being smart and creative, having a family, healthy family members, clean water to drink and thoughtful friends.
Everyone wishes they looked like a supermodel. When I modeled with Elite internationally, I caught myself wanting to look like other models! It was absurd.
The grass is always greener and we, in turn, become meaner to ourselves. Instead, recognize your unique qualities, gifts, talents and focus on them.
Body-image terrorism is real. The choice to fall prey to it is yours. Gift yourself with enough tools to defend yourself against the body bashing attempts that happen daily.
You can build your immunity but there is no magic pill. To become a martial artist you have to take lessons and develop your skills. When it comes to building healthy body image you have daily "opportunities" to strengthen your skills.
You can become a black-belt in self-esteem and body image by learning tools to build your immunity and by practicing them.
When I read about Taylor Townsend, the tennis player who was told to lose weight in order to get a sponsor I was outraged! She's at the top of her game so CLEARLY weight isn't a factor!
Our world has put a dangerous deal of importance on appearance. If you're an athlete it's about your abilities - not your looks. If you are a singer, like Lady Gaga, it's about your voice - not your looks.
Every human being on this planet - it's about who you are and the deeds you do, not your looks. Build your Kung-Fu Self-esteem and take a stand against body-image terrorist in our world!
Focus on your inner beauty and soon your outer beauty will shine.
Los Angeles readers are invited to attend my first workshop for women on Saturday, October, 13th. A reader of Maria Shriver's site wrote me asking if I would consider offering workshops for women and I agreed to create one. Event details can be found via this link. Seats are limited to 40-50 attendees.
Nicole Clark is a documentary filmmaker, workshop presenter, and ‘Media Renegade’. She is a former Elite international model turned champion for girls’ self-esteem. Nicole is an advisory board member to the Parent’s Television Council and on-going partner of the Girl Scouts of Los Angeles. She is currently doing workshops for schools and organizations across North America.