Is it just me or are all the pictures of half-naked, perfectly sculpted, booty-flaunting, 6-pack wearing women getting to be a little too much in the Pinterest world? Don’t get me wrong…I adore Pinterest. I tend to find it motivating and inspiring and fun in a lot of ways…but why does a good exercise routine always have to be promoted with oversized boobs, sexy buns and an impossibly flat (or even inverted) stomach? Who knows, maybe that’s what really motivates most women, but if I’m been going at an exercise routine for 9 months and giving it my all and still look nothing like the picture, I find that far from motivating.
Workouts on Pinterest should be connected to more pictures like this:
Because the reality is that most of us will never look like that half naked, bulging-muscle model, and most of us probably shouldn’t look like that. Sure, we could spend all day at the gym obsessing over every little detail of our bodies…but instead most of us spend our days doing things like building families, gaining an education, developing talents and giving of our time, energy and resources in every way imaginable. And yet too many of us look in the mirror and criticize what’s there. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said or thought the words, “you are beautiful!”?
I saw this YouTube video floating around Facebook and I absolutely love it! A forensic artist had several woman describe themselves to him as he drew their sketch. Check it out…
Dove True Beauty Sketches
You Are Beautiful! Being Self-compassionate
Unfortunately it is not just our image that we criticize…women tend to criticize everything about themselves! I love how the one girl said that the way we feel about ourselves impacts our life decisions, even the way we treat our children–it “impacts everything!” The way we feel about ourselves is critical to our happiness and it also affects everyone around us. If you had a friend who happened to make a mistake or blunder, how many of us would turn to that friend and tell her what a failure she was? How many of us would then start listing off all the other flaws that she had, making sure to pinpoint every single one? Probably none of us. So why do so many women do this to themselves? Since when is criticism motivating? If we want to build, uplift and motivate our friends or family members how do we go about doing it? The same should be with ourselves. Being self-compassionate doesn’t mean that we “let ourselves go” or that we sit around eating chocolate ding dongs all day, or that we give excuses for why we don’t need to exercise. Being self-compassionate means seeing things as they are: acknowledging that you are beautiful, that you make mistakes like any other human being, and that you have many great talents and abilities. Just like you would for a friend, being self-compassionate also means setting goals and standards for yourself, and finding the proper motivation to reach them. An article that I read titled, “Why ARE Women so Hard on Themselves,” stated the following:
“Research shows that people who are self-compassionate tend to stick to their goals and engage in productive behaviors like exercising or quitting smoking. They’re also more likely to take responsibility for their mistakes. Self-compassion helps you feel safe enough to admit your faults–at the same time, it give you the emotional support to get beyond them.”
You Are Beautiful: How to Love Yourself
If you tend to struggle with self-criticism or negative body image, you have a lot of female company! But the change can begin with you! Women who are self-compassionate live happier, more successful lives and have healthier and happier relationships with those around them. So how do you give yourself more credit and turn things around?
Think of Your Motherly Instincts: It’s true that we as women can be overly critical of ourselves, but women are also known for their compassionate nature towards other people. Tap into that. If you are a mother, think of how you feel towards your children. What would you say to them if you knew they felt ugly, untalented or alone? Apply those responses to yourself and learn to love yourself unconditionally. Would you allow your children to skip out on school, bully other kids, or only eat fruit loops all day? Not likely, because you love and care about them too much. Likewise, set healthy limits and goals for yourself and use encouraging thoughts to get you to where you want to be.
Train Your Brain to Use Positive Language: Sometimes negative self-talk can be so much of a habit that we don’t even notice it anymore. Start noticing it. Stop yourself immediately and find something positive to say about yourself. Even if it feels forced at first, think about something you are good at, and tell yourself you are beautiful, talented and smart.
After I was in college I found out from my mother that I was dyslexic when I first started reading and writing. My mother did not want me to be put into a “special needs” class with the possibility of others labeling me as “dumb.” She knew this could affect how I felt about myself for the rest of my life; so instead, she home-schooled me and worked with me daily on my reading and writing. When she finally put me in school, I excelled in English and it was always my best subject. I was shocked when my mother told me this because I always felt smart in elementary school–especially in reading and writing. I never once knew that I had struggled in this area, and I will forever be grateful to my mother for giving me the gift of her time and her love in this way. Just like my mom did for me as a child, we should guard and protect what kind of thoughts and feelings we have towards ourselves. If there’s an area of struggle, we should apply love and self-compassion until we have worked through it, and eventually it can become an area of greatest strength.
Isn’t love far more motivating that criticism?
You Are Beautiful: Training Our Daughters
Here is an excellent post titled The Early History of My Body about what what woman will make sure to teach here daughers about their bodies. Things she wishes her mother taught her. I especially love the part about our bodies being “cyclic,” meaning they are meant to change and go through different cycles and that these changes are healthy.
- Teaching our daughters to love themselves begins with our own example. Start by loving yourself completely and let her see the effects that it has on everyone around you. If you subscribe to beauty magazines, throw them away. These magazines do not teach you that you are beautiful; they portray the opposite of true beauty. Do not let your daughter believe the lies that the media and the world want her to hear.
- Know what your daughter’s dreams are and believe in her. Push her and motivate her to develop her talents and abilities. Praise her in the things she is good at.
- Spend time laughing with your daughter and teach her to find the good in life.
- Love her unconditionally and teach her that making mistakes is part of life
- Make sure they are hearing the words “You are Beautiful,” which is especially helpful coming from a father or brother.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas, what else should be on this list?
Here’s a great article on Teaching Your Daughters Self-Esteem