Monday, January 11, 2010

Let's Get Positive about Body Image

Now that the dust has – seemingly – settled on the ‘is Jennifer Hawkins a role model for positive body image’ debate, I am going to take this whole body image topic off on another tangent.

Posing nude is a form of self expression. Self expression is about self confidence, self respect and having the courage to put yourself out there regardless of public opinion. Hawkins and Dye both showed enormous courage posing nude for mainstream women’s magazines because it left them wide open to both commendation and criticism.

These amazing and confident women have shown self love, inner beauty and importantly, authenticity.

Isn’t this a tangible area of focus that puts a positive spin on the whole body image debate?

The issue about ‘real’ women also comes to light in Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which is a brilliant initiative designed to help women value themselves for who they are, flaws and all, and a link that I have posted frequently on Twitter.

I believe we need to help people see that self expression doesn’t have to be about how you look, what you weigh or the size of your clothing. It is how you feel about yourself on the inside and this is what comes to the fore.

Self expression is also a powerful tool in exploring thoughts and feelings. In my book Why Can’t I Look the Way I Want; Overcoming Eating Issues, this is highlighted in the chapter titled Express Yourself. The freedom to express yourself creatively can help access experiences at a subconscious and sensory level, which can offer fresh insights and different ways of looking at things. Creative writing is a popular form of self expression and having a dedicated diary or journal to record thoughts and feelings can lead to a greater awareness of self. Painting, sculpting with clay, tracing images in the sand and dancing also allows the act of creating a safe space to explore feelings in a creative way.

If we take the focus off ‘size’ and instead channel it into inner beauty and self love through self expression and exploration of thoughts and feelings, we can better help people feel good about themselves and therefore encourage positive body image.

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