Rosie Molinary empowers women to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world. The author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, she teaches body image at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, offers workshops and retreats for women, and speaks on self-acceptance, body image, media literacy, the Latina experience, and social justice around the country. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
Recently, a friend of mine bashed herself in front of me, and I’ve got to be honest, it hurt my feelings. I think my friends are amazing- that is why they are my friends, right?- and I know that if she’s willing to talk the way she did in front of me, that what she is saying when I am not around must be even worse.
“Don’t talk to my friend that way,” I said. She looked startled for a moment, trying to figure who and what I was talking about and then a realization crossed her face.
“You are right,” she said. “Thanks for that reminder.”
Our friends can be such a significant support system for us and we can be the same for them. Here are five tips to help your friends- and you- move towards self-acceptance.
1. Ditch the Fat Chat
When a woman criticizes herself in front of us, what do we typically do? Build camaraderie by adding our own criticisms of our body. And, unfortunately, what we don’t say can be just as damaging as what we do say. When a woman says, “I am getting so fat,” and her friend replies, “You? I’m getting so many grey hairs.” What the first friend walks away thinking is, “she must think I’m getting fat.” Fat chat is just a no win situation. So ban yourself from going there yourself and when someone you love goes there, don’t join in. Instead, celebrate what you love about her and tell her just how wrong she is.
2. Never ask “Have You Lost Weight?”
You’re in the grocery store and spot a friend you haven’t seen in a while. If the first thing you to say to her is have you lost weight, you are left with a potentially awkward situation. If the answer is no, where does the conversation go from there? If the answer’s yes, you aren’t out of the woods because you don’t know if the weight loss came because of stress or grief or a medical situation. And what if her children are with her? You send them a message, too. When you comment about someone’s body, you send a message that bodies are up for grabs in casual discussion and leave that person thinking that you thought there was weight that needed to be lost. By banishing weight-loss commentary, you keep yourself from perpetuating that someone’s weight and body are fair game for discussion and up for both grabs and judgment.
3. Offer sincere compliments
We all need to know that our talents, values, skills, and personality are valued. Research has shown that just one compliment in a day dramatically positively impacts a person’s confidence.
4. Remind each other how subjective beauty is
At book club recently, we started talking about favorite actors. And while we’re a group of women who are like in a lot of ways, what we learned is that our tastes are really different. And that’s just it. So many of us strive to achieve one beauty ideal when people don’t perceive things in the same way. Everything is so subjective. It is impossible to please all people with just one aesthetic or sensibility so we should not try to make ourselves over into someone else’s version of ideal.
5. Create a place to share anxieties
A lot of our body anxieties aren’t really about our bodies, they are rooted in bigger issues but, instead, we fixate on the body issues because we either think that is the thing that is controllable in our life or because we don’t think it’s okay to talk about the real issues causing our anxieties. By creating an environment with our girlfriends where we can openly share our real concerns while receiving support, we move past insecurity and towards self-acceptance and self-assurance while gaining valuable problem solving and perspective.
What are you and your girlfriends doing to boost each other’s sense of confidence and self-acceptance? What environment in your life have you found to be one of the most positive and supportive?