Obsession with beauty and the perfect body starts early in life. By age six, many girls begin to express concern about their weight and body shape and by age 10, 81 percent of girls are afraid of being fat. Body image issues are most common in girls and women, but are gender neutral and can also impact men and boys.

The body positivity movement has been gaining momentum, from our favorite celebrities going makeup free in public to brands, like Dove, airing encouraging commercials on TV.

What is body positivity? With all of its perfection, imperfection, abilities, and disabilities your body is a marvelous vehicle. Like cars, we all come in different makes, models, shapes, sizes, and colors. DNA, not society, defines your body shape and structure and each and every one of us is unique and beautiful. Body positivity is accepting the skin you’re in and not forcing unrealistic expectations on ourselves and it’s an on-going process that embraces the changes your body experiences over life, such as aging.

Body positivity is not letting yourself go. Just as you care for your car with oil changes and tune-ups, you care for your body with nourishment, fun activity, and positive messages. As a leading body-positivity expert, Connie Sobczak encourages, “a balanced relationship with eating, exercise and rest, with moderation as the driving principle, (as) the best way to achieve and sustain good health.” (Connie Sobczak is co-founder of “thebodypositive.org” and co-author of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

Appreciate your body instead of punishing yourself for the way you look. Remind yourself daily that you are more than just a body—you are a mind and spirit that has much to contribute. Recognize the following:

  1. Variety is the spice of live. If we were all the same perfect beings, we would find something wrong with our perfection. Accept and embrace your uniqueness. Your pant size, weight or appearance doesn’t play a role in your choice to be kind and loving to yourself and others.
  2. Set your own standards of care for your body. Outside forces don’t define your healthy zone—you do. And, you do not define those standards for others.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Live in the moment, being mindful of how your thoughts and actions enhance or detract from your interactions with others and your environment.
  4. Find your slogan. What is your mantra?
    • If you beat yourself up with negative self-talk, “Just because I think it doesn’t make it true.”
    • If you feel less than or devalued because of your appearance, “I will NOT determine my self-worth based on my appearance.”
    • When you’re feeling overwhelmed, “I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.”

Lastly, remember that your smile is contagious. It’s tough to feel down when you smile, plus it brings light to others. Be confident in all you have to offer yourself, your family and your community—because your confidence is your best trait!

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