What Does It Mean to Have A Healthy Body Image?
This post originally appeared on Food for Thought.
Back in July, I read an article featuring actress Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of actor Will Smith, in which she expressed some of her thoughts and feelings about the importance of having a healthy body image. She emphasized how important it is for women to celebrate and love our bodies. In the interview, she discussed the magazine cover shoot she did for Essence in which she appeared wearing nothing. She said that she did this because she wanted to be an example for younger women, especially her daughter, to demonstrate what it looks like to have a healthy body image and to love and accept our bodies.
This raised a question for me- Since when is celebrating your body and feeling good about it equivalent to being nude on the cover of a magazine? This idea wasn’t the first time I have noticed this implicit conclusion that is often drawn about the degree to which we physically expose ourselves and how much we accept our bodies. The whole idea makes zero sense to me. There are a lots of ways to love our bodies and model positive body image to young women, daughters!!, and ourselves, outside of what we wear. Having a healthy body image is a state of mind, not just what we put on (or don’t put on) when we wake up in the morning. Just because you may not want to get naked on the cover of a magazine (or wear certain kinds of clothing, certain bathing suit styles, etc..) does not mean that you don’t love or accept your body!
So what does having healthy body image really look like? As women, we are often hyper critical of our bodies and we may not always feel comfortable baring skin in certain outfits or in skimpy bathing suits. But some of us do!! Sometimes that has to do with our body image, but sometimes it doesn’t! So what does it really mean to have a healthy body image? I think that healthy body image means that you can accept yourself and your body for what it is, and that you are able to acknowledge the beauty that exists inside and out. Just because you may wake up one morning not feeling so hot does not mean that you can’t still accept your body and appreciate all that it does for you.. It can be a challenge some days but practicing healthy body image can go a long way! How we think about ourselves impacts how we feel, and how we feel often impacts how we behave and act. So how do we work on improving our body image??
Here is a short list of ideas that help promote healthy body image:
1. Focus on what your body does for you, rather than what size you wear or what the scale says.
2. Don’t let your body hold you back from engaging in activities or participating in social activities that you might otherwise participate in. If how you feel about your body is interfering with these things, you probably don’t accept your body!
3. Be discriminating with what you are looking at (media images, TV, magazines, etc) and what you are reading. It is important to think and observe critically so that you know what is realistic and what is not. Real bodies are what make women beautiful! You don’t really see that much in the media!
Would love to hear your thoughts on body image! Any other ideas about how we as women can encourage each other in accepting our bodies?