It’s no secret to anyone who knows us personally that the Wilhites are gifted in Body Issues. I was given a great gift while I was serving at girls’ camp last month, and I want to remember it forever and stuff, so here it comes. Also, if anyone else finds it awesome, so much the better, right? Much of this information comes from a website devoted to women’s health and wellness. What I’m reporting was compiled by a neighbor and given with love.
I used this information to do a family devotional last week. I kind of thought I’d save it up for a time when only the girls were around, but I had this suspicion that both my 10-year-old son and my husband could benefit from the good things. I started by giving everyone a piece of paper. “Please write down 10 words you use or have used to describe your body.” Some of us did this quickly and without trouble. Some of us are very used to talking words about our bodies. Then I asked everyone to divide their list into Positive and Negative words. I didn’t ask anyone to say any of the words, just give me a percentage. Interestingly, the younger two (who are a 10-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl) came out heavily positive, while the rest of us had written far more negative words. (Did you see this? You should.)
Then I asked everyone to write down 10 things his/her body can do. I asked everyone to share 3 of those. I heard “Ride a bike,” “I can do all the stairs in the Tanner Building,” “Play basketball,” “Carry a baby,” “Laugh,” “Drive a car,” “Walk up a mountain,” “Tap dance,” and “Sing on stage.” Much more positive. Much more empowered.
Then I shared the “10-Day Beauty Challenge” that was created from resources in the website I mentioned above. Some of the days’ challenges might seem a little silly or superficial to you, but it’s a good chance that they’re not the same ones that feel that way to me. Someone will benefit from each piece, so I’m including it all the way I received it. It goes something like this:
Day 1, Making Peace With the Mirror
The Challenge: Using sticky notes or other small pieces of paper, write positive and encouraging words and messages to yourself. Tape these inspiring word and phrases all around the outside border of your mirror and leave them up through the entire 10-day challenge. Too often, we use the mirror as a way to analyze and criticize ourselves and our bodies. Instead of using the mirror as a weapon against yourself, start to see it a a means of highlighting your positive characteristics and attributes.
Today’s Mantra: Which of the words or phrases from your mirror do you most want to believe? That is your mantra today.
Day 2, Making Peace with your Hair
The Challenge: Go “au naturel” for today. Let your hair dry naturally. That’s it. No blow-drying, no flatiron or curling irons. No products. No hiding or pretending. Or, is there a hairstyle you are excited to try but worry won’t look good on you? Today, put aside your worries and try that new hairstyle, accessory, ribbon or bow. Own the new look.
We curl it, straighten it, color it, and do just about everything else in between to our hair, all in the name of looking good. It’s not that we are vain; we happen to care about how we present ourselves and that’s okay. However, today we call for a truce. Make peace with your hair, whatever hair you have.
Do you engage in negative self-talk about your hair? Negative hair talk can include “I always have a bad hair day,” “My hair it too thin,” or “My hair is too curly.” It’s time to stop being your own worst enemy and avoid speaking such unfavorable words about your hair. Negative self-talk can increase your stress level and adversely affect your body … and even your hair.
Whenever you find yourself falling into a pattern of unhelpful hair bashing, consciously substitute it with revised, more realistic and affirmative self-talk. Positive hair affirmations will help you care for your hair better, relax your scalp, improve the health of your hair, and prevent hair loss.
Today’s Mantra: I lovingly groom my hair and choose thought that support its growth and strength. I love and appreciate my beautiful hair.
Day 3, Making Peace with your Face
The Challenge: Go for a day without wearing makeup.
Reflect on why you wear makeup. What does makeup do for you? It is part of getting ready or taking care of yourself? Is it a mask you hide behind? Do you feel enslaved by it? Would you like to change how you feel about it? Depending on your answers, choose to either go without makeup today or continue to reflect on makeup’s place in your life.
Today’s Mantra: “There is nothing more beautiful than a woman under the influence of the Holy Ghost.” – Sheri Dew
Day 4, Making Peace with your Weight
The Challenge: Do not step on the scale and weigh yourself today. This is a challenge for all of us who are addicted to weighing ourselves.
Every woman has a weight that’s ideal for her as opposed to an ideal weight. This is the weight at which she feels the most comfortable, has the most energy, can stay well and feel good about how she looks. She can achieve that weight when she begins to trust her body. Forget size and abandon the scale.
Today’s Mantra: My worth is not defined by the number on the scale.
Day 5, Making Peace with Exercise
The Challenge: Exercise for fun. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy – a form you wouldn’t normally choose because it calls attention to your body.
Exercise is necessary for health, but we have turned it into a duty, obligation, and punishment – something we do to make up for the food we eat. Women are bombarded with media messages that tell us we can’t run, swim, do yoga, or any number of things unless we have the “perfect” body. We must stop waiting to achieve perfection and live our lives to the fullest – taking risks, trying new things, and utilizing the unlimited potential of our bodies.
Action: I will not avoid participating in activities that I enjoy like swimming, dancing, or yoga, simply because I am self-conscious about the way my body looks. I will recognize that I have the right to enjoy any activity regardless of my body shape or size.
Today’s Mantra: I will participate in activities that bring me joy.
Day 6, Making Peace with Food
The Challenge: Take the time to listen to your body and appreciate the food you eat.
Food is not the enemy. Sometimes we eat delicious food and ruin the experience by feeling guilty that it wasn’t “healthy enough.” The Lord has instructed, “Yea, all things which come of the earth… are made for the benefit and use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and enliven the soul” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19). Do we take the time to look at food with gratitude for giving strength and health to the body and also for enlivening the soul?
Choose to eat nutritious food with gratitude because it makes your body feel good. Also eat foods that you truly enjoy because they “please the eye and gladded the heart.”
Action: I will consciously eat. I will eat without the distractions of TV, homework, or reading. I will eat slowly so I can focus on the full range of flavors, textures, and sensations of the foods I eat. I will respect my body enough to satisfy hunger without overeating.
Today’s Mantra: I will appreciate all foods I choose to eat and be more grateful for the joys of eating.
Day 7, Making Peace with your Clothes
The Challenge: Dare to wear what you want today.
Is there something that you’ve been too self-conscious to wear? Is there a necklace or a pair of earrings that you love, but it isn’t “in style?” It’s time to put those worries aside and rock what you feel great it. Put on that outfit. Wear those earrings. Tty that hairstyle and wear it with confidence. If you don’t want to wear a specific outfit, accessory, or hairstyle, dare to wear a confident attitude. Smile at people as you walk by. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Speak up in class when you normally wouldn’t. Or try an activity that you’ve been nervous to try. Just get out there, girl, and carry yourself with confidence.
Reflection: Consider how you dress. Are you comfortable in your clothes, or do they deny your body’s needs? How tight is the waist of your pants, skirt, or dress? How restrictive is the belt you’re wearing? Can you take a full breath even when sitting down? Do your stylish shoes pinch your toes? Does wearing your high heels hurt your back, knees, or hips? Do your stylish winter clothes keep you warm? Does the length of your skirts of your blouse restrict body movement? Does presenting the “right” appearance wrong your body?
Today’s Mantra: I will wear clothes that signal I love myself.
Day 8, Making Peace with your Genes
The Challenge: Instead of looking at your body as something to be fixed, look at it through the eyes of your ancestors.
Generations of women have come before you and you have inherited your genes. Instead of looking at your nose as something to be fixed, learn about its history. Does your nose come from you mother or father’s side? What about your eyes? Your hair? Your body type? Is there a particular ancestor that you closely resemble?
Today’s Mantra: I carry the genes of generations of beautiful women in my body.
Day 9, Making Peace with your Body
The Challenge: List 10 things you like about what your body does.
Your body does hundreds of things for you each day without complaint. Perhaps in the recent past your body has healed a wound, given you the sound of music you love, kept going despite being tired or sick, or even given birth to a child. Focusing on the function of your body and all the things it allows you to do will help nourish gratitude – and in turn a kinder, more realistic view of your body as a whole rather than focusing simply on how it looks.
Action: Learn to love and honor your body. Today, instead of hating your body, make peace with it. Choose to consciously love and honor the sacred garment which houses your spirit for your life’s journey. Choose to believe that your body is the perfect vehicle to help you learn the lessons you need to learn and to do the things you need to do.
Today’s Mantra: I will celebrate all that my body can do for me each day.
Day 10, Making Peace with God
The Challenge: I will feel God’s love today. I will ask Him to help me see myself as He sees me.
Many of us believe that our worth is connected to what we do, how we look, how much we weigh, our achievements, and so on. So we spend our time attempting to adorn ourselves with external measures of worth: a thin body, fashionable clothes, makeup, hair, straight A’s, honors, and achievements. We believe “I am what I do.”
God uses a very different standard. First of all, He has told us that our worth is already divinely established and that it doesn’t fluctuate by what we accomplish, how we dress, or how much we weigh. God doesn’t judge you by your outside appearance. He looks at your heart. Ask Him today to help you see yourself as He sees you.
Today’s Mantra: I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me.