We have deemed this December as a body positivity month at Austin Therapy for Girls. Along with the 22 different holidays around this time of year, it’s often a time to “treat yourself” and maybe indulge in your favorite holiday treat and this can lead to some not so helpful thoughts about your body.
From Shayna’s perspective:
Growing up with a Jewish Father, it was part of our family culture to eat around any emotion. We ate to celebrate, grieve, and sometimes numb pain; food was love, and the way we expressed our love was to provide nourishment. I know this way of thinking is not just a part of my culture and growing up, food is an important factor in many cultures, and a home-cooked meal is sometimes the thing we miss most around this time of year. Although I am not going to pretend that I have the whole body positivity thing figured out, I still turn to food for comfort and stress relief, and I think the key for me is to remember that you cannot change anything you hate. Going around judging my body only makes me want to eat more. As I am middle-aged, I have learned that exercise is the key for me both physically and mentally, and when I do exercise or dance around my living room, I am respecting my body and nourishing it with love.
From Sarah’s perspective:
Twenty-seven years on this earth have come with twenty-seven years of mixed messages of who I was supposed to be and how I was supposed to look. In elementary school, it was “My lips are too big, and my hair is too frizzy.” In middle school, it was “I’m too thin.” “I hate my curls.” In high school, it was “I’m too fat.” “I hate my legs’” “I look horrible in this outfit.” In college, it was “everyone’s curls look better than mine.” “I wish I were skinnier.” And now all I can say looking back is, “wow, I wished I would have appreciated my body more back then.”
How we work with girls and young women:
When we work with anyone and especially high school and college athletes, we always encourage them to use mantra’s as a way to respect their bodies. One of them even created this mantra that we love, “my body allows me to do the things I love.” It’s not always about loving every inch of your body; that’s unrealistic; it’s about respecting your body. When we respect our bodies, we are not only giving it the nourishment it deserves; we are using it respectfully. In sessions, we address clients worried about not “fitting the mold” of what the perfect athlete in their respective sport should look like or be able to do. We continue to teach this message in our session because we want girls and young women to feel empowered by their bodies, not defeated by them.
During the holidays, not only do we have social media telling us how we should look, we also have certain family members that have an opinion of how our lives should be, the amount of food we should eat, and how our bodies have changed since the last time we saw them. Unfortunately, these messages are the ones our shame gremlins feed off and convince us there is something wrong, unloveable, or unworthy about our bodies. The worst thing about these hurtful messages is the more the shame gremlins whisper in our ear, the harder it is to break free of this unhealthy and negative self-perception of ourselves.
Here’s the S squared (Shayna and Sarah) quick tips for respecting your body:
- When you look in the mirror and you start to judge everything from the tip of your head to the bottom of your toes, STOP and find things you like or respect about your body. Literally think of a stop sign and then reset. Admire the beauty you see in your eyes or even show gratitude for something your body can do.
- Take a moment to ask yourself if these are things you would say to a friend. If the answer is no, why would you say these things to yourself? Of course, it’s much easier said than done, but the key to a positive body image and learning to respect your body is speaking to yourself like a friend.
- Only follow social media accounts that celebrate body positivity, diversity, and acceptance. Here are a few of our faves Allison Kimmey, Keah Brown, Alissa Rumsey, RD, Alicia Keys, and Brené Brown
- Create affirmations on sticky notes and post them on your bathroom mirror. Then, recite them every day. Examples: I am learning to love myself and my body. My arms give good hugs. I trust my body to get me through the day and do what I want to do.
- Shop at clothing stores that celebrate different body types. Finding the perfect pair of jeans can be LIFE CHANGING! Check out some of our go-to’s: Aerie, Target, Universal Standard, Nordstrom.
- Ask yourself: What does respecting your body mean to me? For example, drinking more water could be a small change you can make, setting an exercise or sleep routine can really improve your mental health.
Austin Therapy for Girls and our therapists pride ourselves on being mental health cheerleaders for moms and their daughters. We are here to be your personal guide on your journey of self-love and respect, and can teach you how to quiet your shame gremlins and turn your insecurities into strengths. Aside from having an amazing therapy team, we share our space with the remarkable Tori Crawford White, MS, RD, LD and her practice Joyfull Nutrition Therapy. Tori’s knowledge of body positivity and healthy nutrition is invaluable, and we are so appreciative of her input she gave us regarding this blog.
Below you will find two books she recommends!
Austin Therapy for Girls encourages you to come up with a mantra about your body this holiday season. Respect your body by respecting yourself.