Today is the 14th annual Love Your Body Day, which was started by the National Organization for Women to educate women about body image issues and eating disorders. It’s also meant to draw attention to the relentless barrage of print and TV ads that make women feel inferior about their bodies and seek improvement through diets, push-up bras and cosmetic surgery.
There are a variety of local activities being held to mark LYB Day across the U.S. but, in the busy calendar of public ‘awareness’ days, this important occasion too often goes by unnoticed. (Wouldn’t Michelle Obama be a fantastic public ambassador for this issue?)
For its part, NOW asks women to do one simple thing on LYB Day: talk about it.
To promote that message, NOW created the Let’s Talk About It campaign earlier this year to get women to open up about a subject that is very private and often wrapped up in shame and self-loathing. They invited women, including some well-known faces from the fashion industry, to submit personal videos that document their experiences with the bottomless pit of anxiety that is our self-image.
Here’s a gripping and articulate testimony from Crystal Renn, the supermodel who has often been the subject of humiliating public scrutiny because of her fluctuating weight. If you only think of Crystal as a plus-size model, wait till you hear her talk about how a battle with anexoria got her down to 95 pounds — 95 miserable, self-hating pounds. Watch the whole thing, as Crystal’s final comments are terrifically inspiring.
There are a total of 14 short videos in this series on NOW’s YouTube channel, featuring other models, writers, actresses and average women too.
As you watch these films, keep these statistics in mind: 80% of women say they are dissatisfied with their appearance; 50% say they would consider plastic surgery; and only 4% say they would use the word ‘beautiful’ to describe themselves.
Talk about this, girls, and don’t stop talking about it. There is huge power in collective action, as NOW has proven throughout its history.
In the meantime, if you do nothing else to mark Love Your Body Day, read the helpful list below of ‘15 ways to love your body‘. It’s reprinted from Margarita Tartakovksy’s insightful blog Weightless, which offers tons of advice, support and perspective for anyone affected by these issues. (You can find the original post here, which includes links to other parts of Margarita’s blog that address each of these points specifically.)
1. Look at your layers, and begin with the inside.
2. Be aware of habits that hurt your body image.
3. Consider the moments you feel best in your body, and keep recreating them!
4. Figure out what loving your body even means to you. Body love isn’t some abstract, nondescript term. It’s made up of certain perspectives, attitudes and actions.
5. Remember that loving your body is a daily process. Just do one thing.
6. Spread the body love by helping others, which will in turn help you, too.
7. Remember that loving your body (and accomplishing your goals and practicing your passions) won’t happen X pounds from now. Don’t you see, you don’t have to wait?
8. Pamper yourself, regardless of how you feel about your body.
9. Consider ditching dieting and the mentality that comes with restricting yourself and focusing on calories, points, etc., and ignoring your internal cues.
11. Cultivate a sense of gratitude for all the amazing things, big and small, your body helps you accomplish.
12. Get past body envy and comparison-making.
13. Think about five things you love about yourself and these four other body positive pick-me-ups.
14. Reconnect with your body.
15. Bask in life’s beauty.
NOTES: The main image above was created by Shanti Rittgers and was one of the winners in the 2008 Love Your Body poster campaign. … You can find Crystal Renn’s gripping 2010 autobiography, Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves here.