Love That Bod

Do you have a case of Bad Bod-itude? Lose feeling beautiful from the inside out.

More likely to give yourself “ughs” than “oohs” and “aahs” in front of a dressing room mirror? Well, welcome to the club. Shockingly, over half of U.S. teen girls feel their bods are flaws and flab, not fab! Body-bashing is an all-out epidemic that comes in every shape and size: “My boobs are too small.” “Mine are too big.” “I’m too short.” “I’m too tall.” Tons of pressure—peer, parental, media and cultural—makes it hard to feel like a hottie. But it’s time to stop dissing your body!

There is no ideal physique

Think models have perfect bods? Truth is, their skinny shapes—which are at least 25 percent lower in weight than the average girl—represent less than 5 percent of the U.S. female population. Why set yourself up just to be let down by setting standards that aren’t even all that healthy? Start looking at yourself more realistically and, soon, you’ll learn to love yourself as “ideal.”

Appreciate you for you

If you measure your bod against the long-and-lean Mischa, the teeny-tiny Olsen twins or even the girl who sits next to you in math, stop! Entering the “I’m better than you are” contest is no way to keep your body image in shape. As Dr. Susan Krevoy, a Los Angeles psychologist specializing in eating disorders explains, “There’s always someone who looks ‘better’ if you play the comparing game, so you’ll never win.”

Yes, it might seem secretly fun and satisfying to realize your legs are longer than the new girl on your volleyball team. But being dependent on another person to feel good about yourself never leaves you feeling self-assured for the long haul. It’s like saying, “I’m OK if you’re not,” which means someone else has to seem worse than you for you to feel better. Not cool! Believe that, even without comparisons, you are fabulous.

Accentuate the positive

Nobody is perfect. But everyone has positive qualities, so emphasize yours. You have great toned arms from softball? Rock them in sleeveless tops. You inherited beautiful brown eyes from your grandma on your dad’s side? Show them off with golden eye shadow. You can’t trade your body for your BFF’s. So accept and love what you can’t change. Soon, you’ll find yourself more comfy in your skin.

Shake that booty!

There’s good reason to enjoy being active. Exercise not only makes you look your absolute best by toning muscles, it also makes you feel more relaxed, happy and confident because of all the endorphin-action that comes with a good sweat.

Sounds like a chore? Doesn’t have to be. If you hate the gym, don’t go. Don’t like running? Skip it. Choose an activity you enjoy, whether it’s biking, body surfing, hiking or hula dancing! You’ll be motivated to keep shakin’ that thang once you find your get-movin’ groove.

Be a smart cookie

Eat healthfully without being all obsessed with, “What do I weigh?” Making smart food choices keeps your weight in check, but it also plants a glow in your skin, shine to your hair and major oomph in your energy level. No need to ditch the chocolate chips always and forever, but regularly substituting something like fruit or frozen yogurt is smart and delish. Even a slight change in your diet (like giving up your daily soda fix!) works wonders over time.

Add spice to your life

Boost confidence by taking on new (and fun!) activities. Joining drama club, volunteering at a pet shelter, taking dance lessons or going out for volleyball can make you happier on the inside. “If you increase your confidence in everything that you are, you see yourself as a whole person so you lose that negative body image. It’s not as important to you anymore,” says Dr. Krevoy. In other words, the more you’re happy with who you are, the less your boobs matter.

Hoard compliments

Do you shrug off all the nice things people say to you? Like, when your BFF says, “You look awesome today!” you say, “Yeah, right!” Well, shoo the nice words no more. From this day forward, even if you don’t feel like you’re lookin’ so groovy, when someone gives you a compliment, respond with a simple, “Thank you.” Later in the day, remember all the kind words you received and roll in ’em like a dog in tall grass. Works wonders to pump you up.

Ban bad-bod chatter

Negative self-talk—whether it’s aloud or in your head—is poison. “Self-criticism is one of the worst things you can do if you want to improve your body image,” says Dr. Krevoy.
Whenever you think something negative, like “I’m fat!” or “I’m so ugly!” stop that voice in its tracks. Instead, say something positive. With practice, your self-critic will fade and you’ll be jazzed about how you look—and feel!

Another great technique is to talk to the mirror. Every day, say upbeat things to your reflection: “My hair looks great today,” or, “I’m a really good friend.” Talking to the mirror might seem, well, a tad geeky at first, especially because you’ve been so busy bashing your looks rather than lovin’ them up! But your self-esteem will rise with the sweet talk.

Appreciate the package

Your self-worth shouldn’t be about the wrapping. Lots of other things are more important. If you don’t have it goin’ on inside, looking good on the outside isn’t gonna cut it. “Teens get in trouble when they focus only on their looks and forget everything else,” says Dr. Krevoy. Being friendly, outgoing, upbeat, kind, loyal, generous and caring are qualities that make you attractive.

So take that energy you waste trashing your looks and put it into being a better person. Not only will it increase your self-esteem and attract more friends, but it will put your body image in perspective as just one part of Totally Irreplaceable You.

Get ready for this one

Nobody cares that much about what you look like. OK, you probably think that whenever you’ve got a gnarly zit or your hair is frizz-city, everybody is as horrified as you are. Hate to burst your bubble, but you’re one in 6 billion. So as much as you think everyone else is stuck on how you look, they aren’t. Even you’re friends don’t notice your left earlobe is longer than your right—unless you point it out, of course. So why worry?

You’re a work in progress

You’re not a kid anymore—you’re a teen. And you’re still growing and changing. So why waste a sec beating down your bod when life has so many future curves in store for you?

by Sandy Fertman Ryan


12/30/2009 7:00:00 AM
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