Have you ever looked at another woman and instantly made comments about her appearances (more specifically, her body)?
If we’re being 100% honest here, we all have.
We’ve been so ingrained to think about our appearances and focus on how we look, so when we see someone else, our first reaction is to place judgment on their appearances too. We’ve been conditioned to compare ourselves to others. We were taught that our appearances mattered more than our intelligence, our thoughts, our dreams, and our creativity.
And when we couldn’t live up to the expectations (because no one could - hello photoshopping), we felt fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and doubt. We learned to base our self-worth based on our appearances, and we learned to base other peoples’ self-worth on their appearances too.
When we first meet someone, we only care about 2 things: 1. their appearances and 2. what they do (with ties into finances and money).
You can deny it all you want, but the reality is that most of us do subconsciously or consciously.
The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can starting working toward fixing the problem.
When we base someone’s worth on their appearances and what they do, we’re saying to both them and ourselves: “You need to do x, y, and z, in order to earn my approval and love."
Essentially, what you’re saying is that they’re not worthy. Even more so, you’re telling yourself you’re not worthy. And so the belief of "I'm not good enough" goes even deeper.
Because when you judge another woman’s body, you’re judging your own body as well.
Your reaction to them is really just a reaction to yourself.
Do you ever look at another woman and feel instantly jealous because you think she looks better? Because you think she has her life together?
That’s a sign that you don’t feel secure about yourself. That you don’t feel good about yourself. And that you believe you’re not good enough or worth loving, both of which are not true.
We need to start learning to love our bodies and all bodies, because our bodies are beautiful and they deserve to be treated with kindness and love.
As women, we need to stop the judgment and shame, and start supporting and loving one another. We need to share our stories with each other, because that's where the healing begins. That's how we start making progress in our lives. When we share our stories, we allow others to share their stories as well.
As women, we need to create safe spaces for other women and young girls to be open, real, and vulnerable. All of which are not easy, so they need to know that they will not be judged in our sisterhood. We need to let one another know we’re on their side. We’re rooting for them and not against them. Because I believe that in one way or another, we’re all struggling and we're all on the same side here. It's not a "you vs. me" thing, but an "us".
It's about building a community that cares deeply and wholeheartedly about one another.
We’re struggling to find our place in the world - a place where we feel supported, heard, understood, accepted, empowered, and loved. The thing is... we can provide these safe places for one another. The change starts with us.
We can choose to be brave and speak about our stories and our experiences, so we can help those who are not quite ready yet know that there is a place for them when they are ready.
As women in the 21st century, we have a chance to do something absolutely amazing and wonderful. We can change how the world sees us. We can show them that there’s so much more to us than just our appearances. We have incredible talents and skills. We have amazing dreams and even more specular messages to share with the world. We have power, beauty, and courageous hearts.
Here are 3 ways we can empower women to start loving their bodies:
1. Start the conversation.
If your friend comes to you and tells you that they want to lose weight to feel good about themselves, let them know that they’re already absolutely amazing just the way they are and they don’t need to lose weight to be loved. Losing weight isn’t the solution to feel radiant and confident in your own skin.
Has an event (ex. a wedding or a birthday party) ever come up and suddenly you find yourself calculating how much weight you can lose before the event? I've been in that situation so many times I've lost count. When we tell ourselves we have to lose as much weight as possible as fast as possible, we’re reinforcing the mentality that “women need to lose weight before they can love themselves.” We need to break that mold.
Everyone is lovable just as they are; love is not determined by a number.
More often than not, when we think about losing weight in order to love ourselves, we act from a place of fear and not love. Fear that other people won’t love us unless we look a certain way, fear that other people will judge and laugh at us, fear that we’re not good enough.
We are allowed to love ourselves just as we are, regardless of what the magazines and media say.
2. Be aware.
It’s easy to slip back into our old thought patterns and behaviors.
We’ve had them in our subconscious mind for so long that they became a part of us, but they don’t have to stay a part of us.
If you find yourself criticizing or judging another woman’s body, stop and check-in with yourself. Where is this thought coming from? Why is it happening? How do you feel about it? What emotions are coming up for you? What can you say instead? How can you empower and love this woman instead of demeaning and belittling her?
Remember that these old thought patterns and behaviors that did not form overnight, so they will not be disappearing over night.
It's going to take time, so give yourself that.
3. The change starts with you.
It’s great that you’re aware of this problem in our society, and you want to do something about it.
Let people know that you’re here to have this conversation with them. Let them know that you’re going to provide a safe and loving place for them to talk about it. And when they do talk, listen to them. Don’t interrupt or cut them off. Really take the time to listen to what they’re saying and pay attention how they’re feeling and what their energy is like.
Make them feel like they’re being heard and listened to, because most of the time, people just want to be heard. They want to be seen. They want know they matter to someone and that someone’s here for them (so be that person for them).
You don’t have to be perfect or have it all together.
You just need to be honest and real. Because most of the time, that’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for someone to be real with them. To have an open and honest conversation with.
So let them know. Let them get to know you, and let them know that you want to get to know them, too.
Let us know in the comments below: What are you doing to start the conversation? Or what do you plan on doing to empower other women to start loving their bodies and themselves?
Hi there! I'm Molly, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wholehearted Woman. A storyteller, introvert, self-love advocate, and multi-passionate creative with big dreams and even bigger fears. I help women find their voice, share their stories, and authentically embrace who they are.
You can read more about me and my mission here.