Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts the week on a positive note!

Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!

In our society, we walk around with a lot of expectations on our shoulders. I picture many of these expectations as a dumbbell stacked on top of the other, resulting in a heavy pileup of weights — and lots of exhaustion.

There’s the dumbbell that represents appearance. There’s the one that represents perfection, which is intertwined with appearance, weight and shape. And many others that probably fall under the theme of “Be everything to everyone, do it all and make it look easy, while wearing six-inch heels.”

Deep down we know these expectations are unattainable. But we hold on, anyway, and we grip tighter and tighter as we feel the illusion of each expectation slipping away. (And we get more and more exhausted.)

Our expectations — whether culturally created or self-imposed — can greatly affect our body image. If we expect beauty to look like a perfectly put-together package with a lean and sculpted silhouette, and we don’t fit the bill, our body image sinks. If our physical ideal is tied to our sense of self, then our whole world may twist and turn as the scale goes up and down.

Whatever your expectations around your body and yourself, I hope this TED talk from Brene Brown gives you pause to reconsider. To reconsider and adjust your expectations and to empathize with yourself.

Because we spend so much energy, effort and time on fulfilling expectations. Because when we don’t fulfill said expectations, we feel a deep sense of shame (e.g., “I weigh X amount” translates into “I am bad” or “I’m not good enough as I am.”)

Because under some flawless package — under the pursuit of that package — is the real, raw and authentic you. The you that people really want to know and connect to.

Brown’s talk is inspiring, uplifting and thought-provoking. And the biggest reasons it’s all these things? Because of her honesty, her ability to ditch lame expectations and be herself. Because of her ability to be vulnerable.

By the way, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments on Friday’s post!