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10 things you can do

Our top tips for helping the girls in your life and being a great role model.

1. Stop talking about your weight (especially in front of young girls).

Young girls listen to the way women talk about themselves and each other and learn the language of womanhood. Young women can only learn to love or even accept their bodies if they see women who love and accept their own. Every discussion we have about weight, or fat, or being too this or that, leaves an impression on the people around us. We are encouraging an unattainable quest for perfection. Learn the difference between weight and health, and start talking about health. It will help the kids for their entire lifetime.

2. Make a list of women you admire.

How often is the woman’s appearance a reason that you admire her? What do you think are the most important attributes a woman can have? What would you like a young woman to most admire in you? In herself? Does our culture seem to admire the same things in women that you do?

3. Question the motives of the fashion industry.

Always remember that the main objective of the fashion, cosmetic, diet, fitness, and plastic surgery industries is to make money, not to make you the best person you can possibly be. The ultra thin ideal is working for them. But is it working for you? If every season your parent or partner told you to change who you are or how you dress wouldn’t you question their motives?

4. Stop weighing yourself.

Remember that the emphasis to be thin and beautiful is ever-present in our society. Cut yourself some slack. Imagine spending a day, or a week, without the scale measuring your self esteem. Does the scale tell you that you aren’t disciplined enough? That you aren’t working hard enough? Get rid of it. The emphasis on thin is new and arbitrary. And it can be reversed. (You might also think about getting a Yay! Scale, that has compliments instead of your weight!)

5. Concentrate on things you do well.

Do you look in the mirror one day and think you look great and the next day and think you look awful? Your body isn’t changing, your perception of it is. It is true that if you’re feeling good about other things in your life, you’ll be less critical of how you look. Do things you do well. And if you’ve had a bad day, stay away from the mirror. When a woman is happy and confident, she may not have a “perfect” body, but she doesn’t give a damn!

6. Get physical for fun.

Your body needs EXERCISE and REAL FOODS. Take walks, dance in your living room, garden, golf… try to get moving for your heart, not to decrease the size of your bottom. You may lose weight and you may not, but your body will be stronger, your stress will be lower, and you’ll feel better.

7. Value your dollars.

With more women working today than ever before, our dollars are much in demand. You are being courted! How much of your money goes into the fashion and cosmetics industries? What do you spend on eating regimens? What are you getting back? 95% of diets do not work (people gain the weight back, plus more, within one year). Look at your budget and be sure the money you spend reflects the person you are, not the person society wants you to be. Carry a card in your wallet with your list of “buy” and “don’t buy” brands. If looks didn’t matter at all, what would you spend your money on?

8. Voice your opinion.

Both large and small businesses are interested in your input. Your letters, e-mails, and phone calls really make a difference. We have petitions that send individual e-mails in our Gallery of Offenders and Winners, as well as suggestions for communicating your dissatisfaction (or happiness!) productively. A three-pronged approach of writing a letter stating WHY you will not be purchasing a company’s products anymore (and then not purchasing them…) will go a long way toward helping our media environment change for the better.

9. Be a role model.

Every culture and every generation has its own rules and expectations for women. It is never easy to go against the grain, but there have always been women who took risks to grow and learn and succeed. And, there always will be. Many inspirational women have broken molds, set new standards, and blazed trails. Wouldn’t you like to break a mold or two?

10. Break the barriers.

Author Sara Tisdale wrote, “We must all choose between battles: One battle is against the cultural ideal, and the other is against ourselves.” Must we always define ourselves by what popular culture dictates? Develop your own style. Have fun — wear lipstick. Or don’t. You’re the boss of you. By speaking out and accepting yourself (dimples and all), you help break the barriers.

Do you have more suggestions for ways to make change? Let us know!

 

Next:

>> Our workshops

>> On the Pulse blog for adult advocates

>> Media alternatives for girls