While we may be quick to advocate for another and stand up to someone who is bullying our friend, are we good at defending ourselves against our worst critic? I am referring to the way that we, as gals, tend to bully ourselves constantly. If you asked yourself how many times you say something negative about yourself in your head or out loud, what would your honest answer be?
We are bombarded by media images of “ideal” women and girls. How many times do you see a slightly chubby girl modeling clothes in a store catalogue? Never! The girl is almost always thin, tall, with perfectly shiny hair and sparkling eyes–and she’s usually flirting with a boy or jumping in the air with a humongous smile plastered to her face. We see this a lot and what does it tell you? “To be attractive you must look like this and wear these clothes,” or, “Boys like to flirt with care-free girls who are pretty.” So when a normal, uniquely perfect girl sees this add and can immediately find differences between her and the girl in the photo, it’s natural for her to come to the conclusion that because she is different from that “ideal” girl, she must be less than that “ideal” girl.
We are also given front row seats to our reflection multiple times a day–the bathroom mirror, building windows…pretty much any shiny surface will give a girl the chance to check herself out and critique her flaws. What we, as gals, need to understand, is that we are in control of our own thoughts. So, let’s work to change them and make them more positive.
Instead of catching a glimpse of yourself in a car window in a parking lot and thinking something negative like, “I’m so fat,” try to think of something positive to tell yourself. If you can’t say something nice about your body yet, start smaller by complimenting your fashion sense or hairdo. If you’re totally against getting sucked in to your own appearance compliment a part of who you are as a person. “I’m so glad I worked hard and made the softball team,” or, “I’m really funny and people like when I tell jokes.”
If you allow yourself to be your own bully, you’re telling others that it’s okay to make fun of you, too. It’s not ok to tear yourself down. Be better than that. Most of the time, if you really look at what you don’t like about your body, you are being too hard on yourself. If you think you’re 15 pounds overweight, step outside of yourself and ask yourself if your friend was the same size as you, would you think she looked overweight? Don’t hold yourself to absurd physical standards. Part of what makes each of us beautiful is that we all look different, and confidence truly is the most attractive quality one can have.
A personal note: I am no stranger to telling myself negative things. I definitely know how to critique my body and appearance, and yes, I realize that most of the time I am being unfair to myself. It’s hard to break the cycle, but I am telling you the truth when I say that I work on it everyday. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in life and what lies ahead for me that I find it easier not to dwell on wishing something about my appearance would change. We are all SO MUCH MORE than our appearances.
In addition to not bullying yourself this week, I want you to give your friend a unique compliment. It’s so easy to tell someone you like their dress, their eyes look pretty, or they have a flat stomach. But how nice would it be to hear a compliment about something that is unique to you? It just seems so much more genuine that way. I was once told by a male friend that my moles were cute! I have one in the middle of my chest, one on my shoulder, and one above my lip. The funny thing was that I hated my moles! I actually spent way too much time that night deciding whether or not I should wear v-neck top because it showed the mole on my chest (for which I’ve asked a dermatologist several times to remove) and the top was sleeveless and I really didn’t like showing my arms (I thought they were too big from playing sports). So I wore the shirt and I was feeling self-conscious because I could feel my friend staring at me, and then out of the blue, he slaps me with the most beautiful, meaningful compliment I have ever received. He said, “Look at your moles.” I started to panic inside when he followed his remark up by saying, “They’re so cute. I really like them on you,” and he tapped the mole above my lip with his finger. Being a high school girl at the time, I was completely flabbergasted at how a boy could think my moles were cute but I also couldn’t help blushing because I knew that he would never say the same thing to anyone else because those three moles are totally unique to me. That made me feel special. So tell your friend how you love the way her nose scrunches when she laughs or that her long skinny toes are beautiful and perfect for toe rings!
Be the anti-bully. Go out of your way to say something nice (to yourself and someone else) and spread good feelings. It’s about time we all do that.