How to be a body positive role model

We can all contribute to important change.  We don’t have to have thousands of social media followers, run for politics or write a book in order to make the world a more compassionate place – we can do it by living our values and treating all people with respect, including ourselves.  Here are some tips for how you can be a body positive role model and make the world a kinder and safer place for bodies of all shapes, sizes, colours and abilities.

 

How we can all contribute to a culture of body respect

 

  • Let go of assuming that you can tell anything about a person by their size or appearance

  • Refrain from complimenting weight loss, criticising weight gain or commenting on changes in body size at all

  • Notice the diverse range of body sizes and shapes around you respectfully and practice letting go of judging them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

  • Try to remain aware of your own biases around weight and health

  • Refuse to engage in negative body talk (criticising the appearance of others or yourself)

  • Try not to comment on the appearance of children, instead compliment them on their character strengths, behaviour and talents

  • Acknowledge that bodies are supposed to change. We are not meant to ‘keep our looks’, ‘get our body back’ or look the same as we did in secondary school.

  • Stay media savvy. Realise that there is so much money to be made from us being unhappy with the way we look. Turn off, unsubscribe, stop following.

  • Eat for nourishment and satisfaction, not with the intention of changing your body

  • Remind yourself regularly that you’re human, not a mannequin. You are not meant to be perfect. We are all perfectly imperfect.

  • Stop inspecting your body for so-called flaws.

  • Celebrate regularly all your strengths, talents, and what makes you uniquely you. Positive psychologists have found that happiness comes from acknowledging and practicing your signature strengths.

  • Stop equating happiness with looking a certain way. You know all those things you’re putting off until you have a ‘better’ body? You can do them now.

  • Move your body regularly, in ways you enjoy, with the purpose of feeling good and functioning well – not in an effort to change your appearance

  • Think carefully about the role models you choose. Are you admiring them for their character, achievements or wisdom, or is it simply about appearance?

  • Give up dieting. It is ineffective and dangerous. A non-diet dietitian can help you with finding another way to relate to food.

  • Respect that everyone is the ‘boss’ of their own body. Do not criticise other’s food, exercise or lifestyle choices – even out of ‘concern’. (If you honestly think someone is struggling with their mental health then listen, support without judgement and help to refer them to experts)

  • Throw away your bathroom scales. You are not luggage. You do not even need to know what you weigh.

  • Learn to listen to, and trust, your internal signals of hunger, fullness, fatigue, pain, stress etc, and encourage others to listen to and trust their own. Teach children how.

  • Remember that we are all worthy of respect. We are all so much more than our bodies. Keep in mind every person is a unique blend of experiences, feelings, thoughts and stories that you cannot even start to know simply by looking at them.

 

These suggestions may not be easy tips, but they will have a big impact on your life and the people around you.  Most of them will take awareness and practice, lots of self-compassion, and then more practice.  Many people need help from a non-diet dietitian or a counsellor, so please don't hesitate to reach out.

 

by Jodie Arnot

Jodie is a registered counsellor with a Masters in Counselling from Monash University. She provides counselling via telephone, Skype, and in person, and is passionate about helping women to improve their relationship with their body.

 

Body imageJodie Arnot