On 'Love Your Body Day,' We Are Reminded To Celebrate Ourselves Year-Round

October 18 is Love Your Body Day.

Most of us — especially women — have fallen victim to unrealistic beauty standards pushed on us by the media. The messages to look a certain way, and to have a certain body, are so pervasive, that it's easy to feel self-critical and insecure.

But on October 18 Love Your Body Day — a day put on by the National Organization Foundation for Women (NOW) to challenge the belief that self-worth is measured by one's ability to embody current beauty standards. — we are reminded why self-love should be celebrated year-round, despite the haters, bullies, and naysayers. 

Sounds simple, right? Well, for many of us, it's a huge challenge, especially in the age of technology where selfies, likes and followers are a staple in everyday life. 



Rawpixel.com I Shutterstock
Rawpixel.com I Shutterstock

"With the rise of Internet use we've seen that that's correlated closely with teen depression and anxiety increases," Jamie Manwarning, a Primary Therapist at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, CO, told A Plus. She added how young people often feel worse about themselves after looking at images online, in fashion magazines or even "health magazines."

Kids of all ages are affected. In fact, girls as young as 6 years old may express concerns about their weight or shape, and 40 to 60 percent of elementary school girls between the ages of 6 and 12 express concern with their weight, or about becoming too fat, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.  Twenty-five percent of normal weight males perceive themselves to be underweight and 90 percent of teenaged boys exercise with the goal of bulking up.

" ... even if you are a good parent, and try to limit your children's access to online media, you might still have a kid that goes to school with other kids that aren't as limited in their access, who then share those images," Manwarning explained. "Unfortunately, social media and online media use doesn't seem to be going away any time soon, so it's really important for parents and educators to talk to kids about it, and not pretend that the problems associated with that media consumption are non-existent."

While talking to your kids about these issues is so important, it can be equally important for kids to hear positive messages from role models outside their home. So, in an effort to raise awareness about eating disorders, and the importance of loving your body, teen influencer, Alexa Curtis, is also speaking out.  

Curtis felt the pressures of perfection firsthand when she was in high school and developed an eating disorder. While she admits it's still an everyday struggle, she eventually overcame her eating disorder, and today shares her stories with young people to motivate them to see beyond societal definitions of beauty and love themselves and their bodies just the way they are.

"It first started when I was 14 and I wanted to get into modeling," Curtis told A Plus about the onset of her eating disorder. "I was so insecure,  I felt like I had no control over where my life was going, and like no one really believed in me. So, I felt like the only thing I could control was my food."

Soon after, she began struggling with orthorexia, a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behavior in pursuit of a healthy diet. People living with the condition often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.

"I started to see a therapist at the age of 16 and that really helped," she said, adding how being candid in her blog, A Life In The Fashion Lane, was also a form of therapy that helped her find self-love and confidence. 

In 2016, she started the nonprofit Media Impact and Navigation for Teens (M.I.N.T.), which is intended to empower teens to follow their dreams and become confident with who they are.

"My advice is not only to the young people, but also the parents, especially when it comes to mothers and their daughters, to not be too critical about their own bodies, because then kids grow up thinking that hating your body is normal," she said. "Because of the Internet there's these ideas of overnight success because of how someone's body is, and that's just not a good way to lead your life. It's unrealistic to think that your flawless body with a six pack is going to make you a star."

Along with Curtis, many others have taken part in Love Your Body day by sharing their personal stories through vlogs. NOW also offers hangouts where people can view Love Your Body-themed panels where people are discussing  body image, beauty norms and body acceptance.  There are also tools for teachers to teach self-love in the classroom, as well as suggestions for actions you can take to fight against unrealistic beauty standards.  

Whatever way you decide to participate, it's most important to remember Love Your Body should not just be one day, but a year-round celebration. 

Cover image via Rawpixel.com I Shutterstock

For additional information about Eating Recovery Center, call 877-789-5758, email info@eatingrecoverycenter.com, or visit eatingrecoverycenter.com to speak with a Masters-level clinician.

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