What if we lived in a world where...
- All women and girls loved our bodies?
- Ours bodies were celebrated their strength and ability instead of victimized, vilified, and commodified?
- We felt safe to run and jump and dance and walk whenever and wherever we wanted without fear?
Today, as the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl, I celebrate how powerful it is to help our girls learn to love their bodies...no matter what. I celebrate how powerful it will be to have millions of girls stand up in the face of everyone and everything that seeks to threaten them and say "My body is mine. It belongs to me. I love it no matter what size, shape, or color it is. And I am going to do everything in my power to love it, nourish it, and keep it safe."
In order to make this happen, we Girl Advocates really have to step up.
Instead of saying yes to your body - just the way it is - how often do you find yourself negating, ignoring, or rejecting your body? I bet we are all guilty of it. Often, it happens in little ways:
- Laughing off compliments instead of taking them into our hearts
- Denying ourselves enough food or sleep because we are "just too busy"
- Refusing to get up on the dance floor because "oh me? I don't have any rhythm"
The only way to create a world where millions of girls love their bodies is to make sure that we, as grown Girl Advocates, show them what loving their bodies actually looks like. Here are 5 things you can do today - and any day - to practice a little body self-love. I suggest doing these things in front of the girls you love as much as possible...
1. Model for your girls what it looks like to love your body.
Let's face it, we have not had the best models ourselves. Many of us believe that we have "fat thighs" or "bad hair" because we are inundated with messages that we should hate our beautifully imperfect bodies. Society may be to blame but it's now up to us to do something about it. We have a responsibility to our daughters, sisters, students, nieces, and neighbors to do something about it. We can stop the spread of these awful messages by never letting our girls hear/see us put ourselves or any other woman's body down. Next time you catch yourself about to say "oh, I really need to go on a diet" or "oh no, Mommy could never wear anything like that," replace it with "I love that I get to exercise and make by body stronger" or "That's a cute dress but I think I will look even MORE fabulous in this one!" This practice will change both you and your girls for the better. Sure, it will take time. We have a lot to undo. But, we have to start somewhere. Why not be the change we wish to see in the world?
2. Go for a walk.
Put on your sneakers, grab the dog, and hit the road. It's free and simple. Just put one foot in front of the other. Bring your daughter with you. The more you feel your feet against the earth, the more you will enjoy it.
3. Be a sport.
When girls play sports, mountains are moved. I believe that every girl should play an organized sport at some point in her life, even if she thinks she is going to hate it. It's up to us to encourage it. Pretend that you are a (stereotypical) 1950's suburban dad, pick up a ball and glove, grab your favorite girl, and play some catch. Or, if you prefer, pretend that you are a (again, stereotypical) hip, urban dad, grab a ball, shoot some hoops. Or whatever sport appeals to you. Who cares if you are not any good at it. No one is recruiting you for the WNBA, just play!
4. Dance and dance often.
It is my opinion that, like sports, every girl should take a dance class, at least once. The integration of physical strength with physical expression is a magical combination. It's the perfect intersection of kinesthetic learning and emotional learning. But class is not 100% necessary. Anyone can dance. Just put on music and go. Regular dance parties (sometimes including karaoke) and a regular occurance at my house. It's amazing how much self-love can flow from uncontrollable laughter and little bit of sweat.
5. Practice Body Gratitudes
Practicing gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool for saying yes. Writing in our journals or sharing out loud the things in our lives that we are grateful for allows us to cut through any whining and complaining and focus on accepting the good into our lives. We are use this practice for our bodies as well. "I am grateful for my strong thighs because they help me climb mountains." "I am grateful for my curly hair because it helps me stand out in a crowd." "I am grateful for my round belly because it makes such a soft pillow for my kid."
When we can say yes to our bodies, we can love our bodies. When we love our bodies, we can protect our bodies. When we protect our bodies, we can create the changes we so desperately want in the world.
Calling all Bay Area Girls!
I invite you to join us in Oakland this December for our Go Girls! Winter Break Day Camps. Girls currently enrolled in K – 5th grade are invited to join us as we create, give back, and celebrate! Camps run Dec 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23. You may attend one day, all 5 days, or anything in between. Each day has it’s own special theme with plenty of chances to make art and make friends.