9 Ways to Help Others Improve Their Body Image
Every Monday features a tip, exercise, inspiring quote or other tidbit to help boost your body image. For many of us, Mondays are tough. We may feel anxious and stressed out, anticipating an arduous week, especially if we didn’t get much rest and relaxation during the weekend.
These kinds of feelings don’t create the best environment for improving one’s body image. In fact, you might be harder on yourself and easily frustrated. You might even feel like you’re walking on egg shells – with yourself! With these posts, I hope you’ll have a healthier and happier body image day, that’ll last throughout the week.
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to feature it. It can be anything you do that’s healthy and helps boost your body image. I’d love to hear from you!
We talk a lot about improving our own body image and learning to love our bodies, but why not spread the wealth? Why not brighten someone else’s body image, too?
Whether it’s a loved one or a stranger, below are some ideas for helping others improve their body image:
1. Avoid engaging in fat talk and discourage them from doing it, too. If someone you know fat talks regularly, help her break the cycle. Many people don’t even notice how much and how often they fat talk, and might not realize how powerful fat talking is at damaging their self-image. This can be as subtle as steering the conversation to another subject or telling the person why fat talking is terrible.
2. Tell them you love them and why. We regularly talk here about how body image goes beyond liking how you look; it’s knowing that you deserve to take up space. It’s loving yourself unconditionally. But sometimes we can’t cultivate this appreciation, respect and self-love on our own. There are so many qualities we clearly love about our friends and family, but yet we don’t tell them enough.
Tell your loved one what you love about them. Big or small. Maybe you love their sense of humor or compassion. Maybe you love their outfit that day. Or you love their smile. Or their zest for life. Or their style. Whatever. Share this with your loved one; don’t keep it in.
3. Share with them a body positive post. It’s thrilling to be surrounded by so many uplifting body image blogs. While we all have our bad body image days, reading an inspiring post about positive body image can really impact someone and give them a different and healthier perspective. If your loved one is struggling, email them the link to a favorite post of yours – whether it’s on Weightless or elsewhere – or print it out and hand it to them. It’s so important to spread a positive message.
4. Write an Operation Beautiful note and post it somewhere. Here’s one powerful reason for helping a strange boost their body image (from the OB book):
“One day, I was in a mall washroom, and although it was rather crowded, I wanted to leave an Operation Beautiful note. I quickly stuck it on the mirror and walked out. Then, this girl, who had been curiously looking in the washroom, taps me on the shoulder in tears and gives me this huge hug, thanking me. It made me tear up as well. It was an incredible feeling!” ~ Brooke Vickery, 16, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, pg. 15.
5. Go on self-care dates. Taking care of yourself is key for a healthy body image. Get manicures and pedicures together (or do a spa day at home), discover together what movements bring you joy, go out and eat a delicious and nourishing meal, have a picnic at the park, browse bookstores or get massages.
6. Encourage loved ones to express their emotions and be honest with you. Bottled-up emotions can lead to a negative body image, emotional eating and other unhealthy practices. Some people are afraid to express their emotions. Create a safe space for your loved one to be open with you by being an active listener, not losing your temper and being compassionate. Ask them from time to time how they’re really doing. Check in with them.
7. Talk to them about their greater purpose. “Numerous studies have shown that people who have a sense of purpose have better health, better relationships and a higher overall sense of well-being,” body image expert Sarah Mariawrites in her book Love Your Body, Love Your Life. But it’s so easy to get carried away lamenting and fixing our appearance because that’s the society we live in. Help your loved one realize the importance of finding their greater purpose. One good exercise is writing up your life mission statement. Consider doing it together.
8. Bring up other thought-provoking questions. A while ago, I wrote a post with 10 questions to ask yourself. Why not discuss these with a friend or family member? You can also talk about these questions. You can even make it a habit to get together and answer these questions (and other ones you come up with) once a month.
9. Share your knowledge about being a critical consumer. The thin ideal is everywhere. You can’t buy your groceries without seeing a magazine touting low-calories snacks, the latest diet or the latest workout routine to zap away 10 pounds in 10 days. It’s hard to keep a positive body image with so many negative things vying for our attention. Learning to become a critical consumer of the media is important for building a healthy body image.
If we believe that what the media feeds us about a healthy lifestyle is true, our body image and self-image can truly suffer. So help your loved one better understand how Photoshop works, that diets don’t work, that diverse body shapes are beautiful and so on.
What ways would you add to the list? Has someone helped to improve your body image? How?
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). 9 Ways to Help Others Improve Their Body Image. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 13, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/09/9-ways-to-help-others-improve-their-body-image/