Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror and cringed at the reflection? Or heard someone make a negative comment about their body image and not having the guts to tell them otherwise?
Everyone struggles with liking their appearance at some point in their life. I’m not going to chuck a whole lot of stats at you today, because I know you don’t need numbers to understand how serious this is. It’s a yucky feeling to not be happy with who you are or when your friends aren’t happy with who they are.
Whether right now you totally love yourself or you utterly detest yourself or you’re somewhere in between, it’s always helpful and handy to have ideas up your sleeve to:
- help you to love yourself and be happy with the way you are
- help other people see how beautiful they are.
Telling yourself and others about your/their beauty is an effective, relevant and AWESOME way to be a changemaker (hence the article). In light of that, I’m going to take you through some ways to work on loving yourself for who you are and ways to tell your friends how awesome they are. These ideas are more relevant for girls, but they are still helpful for guys nonetheless.
Here we gooooooo……
Sort Yourself Out…
Before you can go and start counteracting your friends’ negative comments about themselves, it’s always helpful to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Here are two practical ways you can do to improve your perception on yourself.
God’s Thoughts to Your Thoughts
Yes, reading what God thinks about you is a common solution people give if you aren’t feeling good about yourself. But, despite it’s…overused (I guess you could say) quality, it is extremely comforting when you discover that God actually thinks you’re amazing, JUST THE WAY HE MADE YOU! Five Bible verses that you should totally read on this subject are:
- Psalm 139 (especially vs. 13-14; it’s AMAZING)
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
- Genesis 1:31 (read with emphasis on “all that he had made, and it was very good”)
- Song of Songs 4:7
- 1 Corinthians 6:19 (think about how the Israelites felt about their temple to help you understand this verse)
Once you begin to understand the way God sees you, those ideas will slowly trickle into your mind and you’ll be able to see yourself in the same light.
What?! Yeah, that’s right. I’m telling you to go renovate your bedroom. I don’t mean knock out walls or rip out the carpet, though – I’m just talking about some minor changes.
A great way to improve the way you feel about yourself is to get rid of ALL your bedroom mirrors. I had two, massive sliding mirrors which doubled as my wardrobe doors. I was constantly looking at myself in them and analysing every tiny aspect of my body shape. It was unhealthy and wearing me down. So, I took them out!
If you are always staring at yourself in the mirror and judging the way you look, I suggest you do this little reno. How many mirrors you take out depends on who you are. I’ve split it into three categories:
- If you are always looking at every part of your body (arms, legs, face, chest, you name it), taking out EVERY SINGLE mirror in your room would be the way to go. Only use a small mirror when doing your hair so you at least make yourself look neat.
- If you only look at yourself from your shoulders down, take out your full length mirrors and leave a small one for looking at your face (do to hair, brush teeth, etc.).
- If you only look at your face, take out the small mirrors and only look at your face for doing hair and brushing teeth. For full length mirrors, cover up where you face would normally be in your reflection, so you can only see your shoulders down. Get creative! Cover it with photos (just not of yourself), study notes, bible verses, book quotes, movie posters; whatever will suit your room.
Here are some Pinterest ideas for what to do when your wardrobe mirrors are out and you don’t want anyone seeing your mess (or what to cover up your mirrors with if you can’t take them out):
However, these are only guidelines. Feel free to mix and match and do whatever you want. As long as your are getting rid of the habit of analysing yourself and generating negative thoughts.
…Then Help Others
Once you have helped yourself think positively about yourself and your body, then you can help your friends love themselves. I’ve come up with three ideas – two relatively easy and one which requires a bit more courage – which will help you in doing that.
Words Have Power
I did a similar activity to this at Bible Study once and it is actually such an encouraging activity to aid people in seeing how beautiful they are and how much others love them.
Choose someone who know who you want to let know how beautiful and awesome they are. Grab a piece of paper or a card that your person will like. In the middle of the paper or the card, write the person’s name. Then go round to other people who know this person and ask them to write down one or more things they like about that person. It could be as simple as, “I love your hair,” or it could be more in depth like, “I love it when you always help me in class,” (or whatever). Once you and everyone else has written something, give the paper or card to that person, letting them know how amazing they are.
Even go fully artistic (if you’re that way inclined) and do fancy lettering with pictures or whatever you feel would make your person feel special.
Shut It Down
I mentioned this idea in Back to Reality but I absolutely LOVE it and are convinced that it’s an effective way to counteract someone’s negative comments.
I find that body shape and appearance constantly arises in conversations. Except the comments aren’t encouraging. I find that they’re negative, either about the person saying it or about others. In order to then generate positive comments that build others up, what you can do is to counteract those comments.
Whenever someone says they’re fat or another person’s fat, simply tell them that they’re not. Or, if sadly they are, you could just say, “I like you just the way you are.” Encourage positive comments in your friendship group and IMMEDIATELY shut down negative comments as soon as they arise. If a particular friends is always making negative comments about their body image and you’re worried about them, pull them aside and talk to them and/or seek help from a trusted adult (eg parent, teacher, school councillor).
So, next time your friend comments, “Oh my gosh, I’m so fat” or “Dude, your hair looks terrible today,” offer an alternative comment which seeks to tell someone how beautiful and flawless they are.
Whole School Involvement
This idea is for you people out there who want to do something more to promote a positive body image.
The Butterfly Foundation is the Australian organisation for supporting people with eating disorders and promoting a healthy body image. It has numerous campaigns which enable it to do this, two of which are great to get your whole school involved and for you to promote positivity around body image. Those two are:
- Fat Talk Free
- Love Your Body Week
Fat Talk Free is a small campaign which is all about getting rid of ‘Fat Talk’ (basically what I was talking about before). Those who take part in the campaign are encouraged to take the FAT TALK Free Pledge, promising that they will shut down ‘Fat Talk.’ Additionally, the Butterfly Foundation has posters, fact sheets and ‘fat talk’-free comments available to download in order to promote this campaign.
In comparison, Love Your Body Week requires a little more effort, but is, what I think, one of the best ways to promote a healthy body image. The Butterfly Foundation highlights three ways you can advertise a healthy body image and the idea of ‘there is no such thing as the perfect body shape.’ They are:
- taking the pledge – this promises that you will learn how to love your body every day
- taking the survey – telling the Butterfly Foundation how you feel about your body
- posting on social media – taking a photo of how you celebrate your confidence in your body and posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the given hashtags.
Like Fat Talk Free, there is also a poster available for download. In 2016, Love Your Body Week took place from 5th – 11th September. There are no dates for this year yet, but I will post the information when it is available.
In the meantime, you can get your school (or even just your friends if that’s more manageable and/or comfortable) involved in the Fat Talk Free campaign!
You Are Now Clearly Winning At Life
Think about the five ideas I’ve just given you. Find at least one (more would be AWESOMELY EPIC) that you can implement amongst your peers. Begin promoting a healthy body image, changing the way you and others view our bodies. Once you do, your life, and others lives can change and be better.
Start telling them otherwise.
- ‘I think you’re…’ card image: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/525373112750762594/
- Mirror image: http://weheartit.com/LoveIsLouder19/collections/805289-self-esteem-body-image-under-media-s-influence
- Butterfly Foundation logo image: https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/
- Collage of wardrobe mirrors images: https://au.pinterest.com/