By Ashley Michelle Williams--It’s getting closer to summertime & many of us may not feel comfortable stepping out in our bathing suits. Are you evaluating your body based on others around you?
Comparing my body to my classmates was the start of my battle with eating disorders. I believed I needed to lose weight because my body type was different. So many of us do this. We come up with our own perceptions and reasons as to why we need to lose weight that are really about what we think we “should” look like. Instead of habitually comparing your body to others (a habit that can reinforce negative body image and trigger even more dangerous behaviors like disordered eating), how about putting that energy into some self-acceptance? Here are my five tips for breaking free of the comparisons:
1. Realize that your body type is exactly the body type for YOU. No one else--only you. We are all created to be unique and different--not the same. Own that! Embrace that, and love yourself for who you are. Make a list about what you love about your body. You could also try writing a message to yourself or finding an inspirational quote about loving your body to place by your mirror so you can see it every day as you get ready to take on the world.
2. Have more compassion for yourself, and stop picking out your imperfections all the time. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what’s wrong with your body, look in the mirror and see what you love. If you saw someone talking negatively about another person’s body the same way you talk and think about your own, would you stand for it? Probably not. Those negative thoughts can be super cruel, damaging, and demeaning.
3. We all make the comparisons, but we need to face reality: pictures of celebs and models in magazines are PHOTOSHOPPED! That’s right. Kate Winslet said publicly that a magazine had Photoshopped a part of her body, and many other stars have acknowledged that they’ve been digitally altered for magazines too. Do not believe what you see, and do not compare people you see in magazines to your own body, because most of the time those “bodies” are not even real. Many times, the ads or photos in magazines are unreal photos of celebrities or models. And this “unreality” is unfortunately causing many to believe that being super thin is the norm and the healthiest route to take. However, this is not true at all.
4. Focus on healthy habits, not weight loss. It’s good to be honest with yourself about what’s good for your body, but do not take extreme measures to lose weight. That is not right. Eat foods that are nourishing for your body and find daily exercise that allows you to de-stress and makes you feel healthy and good about yourself.
5. Try writing letters to yourself or writing in your journal about how you feel about yourself and the great things that you offer to the world. Writing can be a form of meditation and contemplation in which you take all of the negative thoughts that you have, put them on paper, release them, and then change your way of thinking. Remember, the battle of being healthy and loving yourself is in the mind. It is very possible to conquer the harsh thoughts we have about ourselves.
Remember, you are beautiful, so just own it!
About this blogger: Ashley Michelle Williams is an energetic, world-traveled broadcast and digital journalist. She currently works at NBC Network News. For her efforts in journalism, Ashley has received many honors, including the 2011 Student Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Pat Tobin Scholarship from the Black Journalists Association of Southern California, a Hearst Journalism Award Nomination; and more. Having overcome anorexia and bulimia, she hopes her involvement in NEDA and her support of those battling eating disorders will help many people, especially African-Americans, who are suffering from eating disorders. The opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect those of NBC.
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