As they took their seats in the auditorium, 50 middle school-aged girls sized me up, wondering if this girls-only gathering would be worth their time. To start the assembly, I read the following quote:
“To be worthy, we must be beautiful, and to be beautiful, we must be thin.”
Then I asked how many of them would say that was the message they were getting as a girl growing up in the world today. Every single hand went up.
Although I expected this response, I was startled by how quickly the girls identified with the sentiment. In just a few short years, they'd gone from beautiful babies, blissfully unaware of societal expectations, to self-conscious adolescents who believed their worth was inextricably tied to beauty and body size.
Thankfully, a growing body-positive movement is creating a new societal expectation, one that honors our inherent birthright to feel good in our bodies. If you’re ready to love your body no matter its shape or size, consider adopting these six practices that body-positive people do every day.
1. They move in ways that they enjoy.
Body-positive people don’t look at exercise as something they “should” do. They don’t force themselves to work out. Instead, they dance, or run, or hike, or ski or box because they love the way it makes them feel. They explore ways they enjoy moving their bodies, and then they simply do it because they want to — no drama or force involved. Body-positive people view movement as a vital way to experience the pleasure of having a physical body.
2. They slow down and enjoy their food.
Body-positive people are tuned in to what makes their bodies feel good. They know that when done mindfully, eating can be an immense source of pleasure. Food tastes good for a reason, and body-positive people make sure to enjoy the experience.
3. They check in with their bodies regularly.
Am I thirsty? Hungry? Craving a good stretch or a nap? Body-positive people make a point of checking in regularly to assess how their bodies are feeling. Then they do their best to honor their bodies’ needs.
4. They pamper their bodies.
Body-positive people understand that they're worthy of being pampered. Whether it’s getting a massage, practicing restorative yoga or taking a bath, they take the time to give their hard-working bodies some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
5. They practice gratitude.
Did you know that in one square inch of your hand, you have nine feet of blood vessels, 600 pain sensors, 9,000 nerve endings, 36 heat sensors and 75 pressure sensors? Or that your eyes can distinguish up to 10 million color surfaces? Body-positive people recognize that their bodies are incredible vessels that allow them to experience all the joy that life offers, and they’re grateful, every day.
6. They hang out with other body-positive people.
The best way to solidify a way of thinking is to spend time with people who think the same way. Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Body-positive people purposefully cultivate a like-minded tribe in order to stay well-fueled in their commitment to loving their perfectly imperfect bodies.