BODY IMAGE:  – the way you see yourself when you look in the mirror – is something that has been talked about A LOT over the past 25 years.  In recognition of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we wanted to talk to you about the things that put those thoughts in a lot of girls’ heads.  Our hope is that you learn something that will help you avoid this very serious problem, AND help you feel better about yourself.

I’m going to ask you to consider 3 little concepts:
  1. Be careful little eyes what you see;
  2. Be careful little ears what you hear;
  3. Be careful little feet where you go.

I can’t take credit for these concepts, they are from a song that my mom and I used to sing together when I was a young girl.  Let’s discuss these concepts.  

FIRST, we are constantly being sent messages through the television, movies, videos, and pictures and posts we see on Social Media.  In all of them, people are “just right” – their body type, their clothes, their hair and their make-up are ALWAYS perfect.  On TV, in the movies and in magazines, the actors you see are not true representations of who those people really are. Writers spend hours deciding exactly what the actors should say. The actors memorize the lines like you memorize your math facts and spelling words. They have other people who tell them what to wear, and even more people who do their hair and make-up, and make them look different than they would if you walked by them in Walmart.  Most of the pictures you see in magazines are photo-enhanced – they use computers to change the pictures, so the people don’t even look like themselves once you see it. Even on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube – and ALL of the others), the pictures and videos are almost always “the best” of that person, not the REAL way they look every day. 

WHAT TO DO: Try to see these things for what they are – a show, a production, entertainment…NOT real life. These things you see aren’t all bad, UNLESS you start using these to judge yourself or others in a negative way. If you notice yourself doing this, STOP that behavior and go to someone you trust – your parents, an aunt or uncle or a teacher – and discuss what you are seeing and your impressions of what you are seeing.  

SECOND:  Every day we hear or get messages from people we see, people we talk to, and from the things people do or post on social media.  It is not possible to always agree with everyone or for everyone to do positive things or to ONLY say positive things about you  – humans don’t work that way. You do, however, have a choice about who you spend your time with. You have a choice about who you listen to, who you talk to and who you “follow” on social media. YOU get to decide for yourself whose opinion is right. People are going to talk, sometimes they are going to say bad things about others – sometimes they are going to say bad things about you. IF someone says something bad about you, are you going to believe it? Just because someone said it, does that mean it’s true?

WHAT TO DO: Take a stand – DECIDE to make choices about WHO you to listen to. CHOOSE people who are supportive and honest. IGNORE people who are negative and purposely hurtful – they aren’t your friends anyway.

THIRD:  Learn to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise.  Food is necessary for life. Food is not the enemy.  Food is fuel for your body to make it grow, to help you focus and learn, and to keep you going every day. Food should not make you FEEL anything – not happy, not sad – it is not meant to do that.  Having a healthy relationship with food means to eat regularly (3-4 times a day), eating mostly the types of food your body needs to keep going (protein, fruits and vegetables, grains and water), and learning about how much your body needs. Exercise is important, too!  – Here is where your FEET come in – Your feet are an essential part in exercise and movement. Exercise helps to burn excess body mass (fat) and creates an energized muscle mass. Exercise also helps to focus your brain activity. Exercise releases hormones in your body which make you feel better and sleep better. Try to find a balance every day between the food your body NEEDS, and the things you like to eat. Also, make a commitment to exercise your body every day, even if that means just walking for 30 minutes. And DON’T forget to drink your water!  

Above all, I want to leave you with a final suggestion: LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF for your strengths and abilities, NOT the number on a scale or the size of your clothes. There is SO much more to you than any one number. We are all created with special and unique talents, strengths and abilities. Try figuring out what yours are – make a list of them, and ask the people you trust to help you. Then, focus on adding more things to your list. Your talents, strengths and abilities are what help you improve YOURSELF, and in turn, your school, your community and the world around you. THOSE are the things that matter, THOSE will be your footprint on this planet, not how much you weigh, what size you wear, or how big or small you are.  

God Bless,

Melanie Crumpler, LCSW

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