I was reading before bed one night near the end of the semester, when a feeling of urgency came over me.
Have I told them everything, I wondered. Have I given them every bit of wisdom that I have to help them with their self-acceptance journeys?
And so I started writing down what I wanted to make sure I had told them before our time together was done.
Want a semester of my body image class boiled down to its essence?
Here are twenty-five points I try to impress upon my students every semester:
1. You are here on purpose. You have a gift you are meant to give to the world, and it has nothing to do with your body.
2. There is something you are not doing for every minute you spend in the mirror obsessing. Go do it.
3. Self-acceptance starts with a choice. The choice you are making is to not have an adversarial relationship with your self. Every decision is about not being your own adversary.
4. There is nothing you have to do to prove your worth. You have worth simply because you exist.
5. One of our greatest mistakes is thinking that if we change our body, we can change our minds. Happiness is an inside job. You have to change your mind.
6. If someone comments about your physicality or station in life, it is not about you.
7. People will sometimes say crappy things in the hopes of making themselves feel better. Don\’t listen to the one.
8. We teach people how to treat us. Choose your boundaries and communicate them with others. A simple, “this isn’t a conversation we are going to have” can communicate more than you thought nine words were capable of conveying.
9. People will sometimes say crappy things because they do not have better words but they do not mean it the way it sounds. In those moments, assuming right intention can help you both. A powerful part of the self-acceptance journey is that you can begin to not assume blame either way and distinguish when to assume they had a better intention or put up a boundary.
10. Beauty is so incredibly subjective. There is not one look that is universally pleasing. If you want to be in a partnership, who you are right now is someone’s cup of tea. But you have to start by being your own cup of tea.
11. If there is no perfect, there can be no imperfect. We are each meant for our own unique expression.
12. You vote with your time. Don’t watch shows or read magazines that cause you discomfort.
13. You vote with your dollar. Don’t pay for products that make you feel less than.
14. You vote with your voice. You can share your disdain for any message that demeans you.
16. If something or someone makes you feel bad, you don’t have to continue your exposure. You can quit anything that hurts you.
17. We spend so much of our adolescence trying to hide what makes us unique and so much of our adulthood trying to point it out. Don’t mask what you have to offer. Embrace it now.
18. All natural day isn’t just good once. Embrace your natural state more regularly.
19. A media fast isn’t just good for a grade. Create more media free moments in your life.
20. There is no less interesting conversation than one rooted in body shame.
21. Set ground rules. Make your ear space a body snark free zone- for you and others.
22. That party that has you paralyzed about how you look? No one there cares about how you look as much as you do.
23. People might remember what you wore. They could remember how you looked. But they will always remember how you made them feel.
24. Look people in the eye. They deserve to be seen. You do, too.
25. You can do anything. You do not have to do everything.
And a bonus: While you are not defined by your body, you have a responsibility to your body because it is your vehicle through this life. What do you need to take care of you? Offer yourself that. Now. You will never regret taking good care of yourself.