There's nothing quite like the security of a 5 year old.
Remember your 5 year old self?
That girl who danced and didn't care who was watching?
The girl who sang at the top of her lungs with a crackling force and giggles tumbling out behind?
The girl who thought her mismatched outfit was 'on point'?
Do you remember that girl? Who lived without reserve or shame?
What happens between those early years to the tween years and beyond? What happens to make us so awkward in our own skin at times? So, anxious about the way we look?
There is no easy answer to these perplexing questions. Some will argue that magazines and impossibly thin, airbrushed models are to blame. Others may jump on the bandwagon of perfection. Perhaps, it's just the need to fit in while trying desperately to stand out; the impossible standards we set for ourselves. Often, we can have 10 people validating us, but we only hear the one critical voice, and count that as the most important and maybe, that one voice is our own. Many more times, the critical voice is handed down through the generations and without even knowing, our own critic within, is all our daughters ever hear.
How can we foster a more positive image of our bodies?
- Embrace all the variations of beauty. There is no right definition of beauty. As you look at others, withhold your judgement and see the beauty within them...now, do the same for yourself.
- Realize what an amazing machine your body is. There is no technology on earth that can keep a human life running, quite the way God does. We have within us a great power, the power of life. You aren't a size or a number, you are a miracle.
- Focus on your strengths; those things that have nothing to do with physical beauty. Keep a list of those close by, so you can refer to them when you get down on yourself.
- Get beyond yourself. Focus on others. Make a difference in someone else's life and live a life of purpose. When we have purpose, we have a greater sense of belonging and self love.
- View social media with a critical eye. There are very few things we can count on as truth when it comes to the internet and social media. Remember, that nearly all images are retouched, airbrushed and changed dramatically. Social Media should never be the yardstick we use to measure beauty- our own or someone else's.
- Strengthen your personal value system. Personal worth comes from loyalty, wisdom, integrity, confidence, assertiveness, respect, good humor, patience...and so much more.
- Develop better communication skills. When we become better at using our words to express what we are feeling, food becomes balanced and less emotional.
- Try to foster a life of balance and moderation.
- Learn to set healthy boundaries when it comes to your interactions with those around you. Don't accept judgement from others that feeds shame or guilt.
- Pass on to those around you, a positive way to think about yourself. When we are able to model a healthy self image, those we associate will rise to the same level.
All too often, we have come to believe that as women, a poor self image is just part of the role we play but it doesn't have to be that way. It takes work to fight against the social culture of perfection we are continually presented with. It takes courage to become that girl we once were...ya know, back when we were 5.