I know that your squad is the best squad in the world, but you can always do a little more for each other when it comes to self-esteem and self-love. These topics require repetition and constant practice, so here are some tips on how to be body positive with your friends. Both men and women alike are constantly steamrolled with society's idea of beauty standards, each of them taught to compartmentalize a beautiful, varied group of people into homogeneous categories. Hair is to be straight and glossy, bodies are to be thin and muscly, limbs are to be long, and faces are to look like they belong on airbrushed ads. But how many of us actually fit that description? And why is it that anyone who falls outside of those checked boxes is often automatically made to feel unworthy or, well, ugly?
While we might not be able to revolutionize what magazines print on covers and what advertisers slap on our TVs, we can support each other to find and keep our self-love and self-acceptance in how we look and feel. All shapes are beautiful and powerful and, most importantly, don't add or take away value from a person. And if it's hard for someone to accept or remember, then hopefully their awesome squad will help repeat it. Below are 41 small ways you can be body posi with your friends. Now get to lovin'.
1. Don't Say Those Pants, Dresses, Or Skirts Makes Your Friends Look Skinny
Don't use skinny as a compliment and fat as an insult. A body type shouldn't be a goal or an affront.
2. Don't Talk About How "Bad" Your Friend Is Being For Buying A Cake Pop With Their Coffee
You want the cake pop, you buy the cake pop. Don't make someone feel like they're being a slob for wanting to indulge in a little treat.
3. Skip The Food Baby Joke
We all know it's a joke, but calling yourself fat to the point of looking pregnant because you ate too much pizza doesn't help anyone's self-esteem. All it does is make you look negatively at food and what it does to your body. Skip the joke and instead pat your tummy happily.
4. Try To Compliment Each Other On Non-Physical Attributes
Hearing "your hair is so pretty today," or "your legs look amazing in that dress" may give you a fleeting ego boost, but it feels completely different from "you're so creative" and "that was super generous of you." Try to compliment each other on your brains, personality, and heart rather than what you look like.
5. If You Do Compliment Each Other's Bodies, Try To Keep Perfection Out Of It
Don't make others feel like perfection is the goal. Don't make others feel like they achieved an "ideal" for a day. For example, instead of saying "you look so skinny today" or "your cat-eye looks flawless," try something like, "I love that dress," or, "Your makeup skills are dope."
6. Don't Question Your Pal's Idea Of Beauty
Are they about to dye their hair an acid green? Buy a tent dress? Get a sleeve tattoo? Even if those aren't things you'd personally do, you need to support and respect their idea of beauty. We all have our own preferences, and it's not your place to decide what they are for others.
7. Erase Away Insecurities
Have a friend that feels self-conscious about her tummy? Tell her how amazing she looks in that crop top. Have a pal that feels insecure about her thighs? Urge her to try on the skinny jeans. Rather than helping them hide their flaws, help them see that they're not flaws at all.
8. Cut Each Other Off When You Begin Body Shaming
Sometimes it happens by accident: You mention your thunder thighs, how fat your face looks in the Instagram picture, or how your legs pancake when you sit down. When you hear one of your friends talk that way, answer with self-love. The more they hear it, the more they'll believe it.
9. Reframe Each Other's "Flaws"
Do you have a scar on your chin that you think is ugly? See it as a playground battle scar. Does someone hate their freckles? Those are all the beach days and summer breaks you spent together. Help each other reframe your flaws into something beautiful.
10. Don't Let Each Other Use Their Body As An Excuse Not To Do Something
Will someone not come to the beach because of the bikini situation? Will they not go do yoga because they think it's a skinny girl activity? If your friend can't be strong for herself, you be strong for her. Don't let her get away with that crap thinking and force her to brave her unsubstantiated fears.
11. Talk About Being Strong[, Not Prettycut]
Instead of working out to see a smaller number on a scale or to get "bikini ready," talk about how powerful and Viking warrior-like you feel after your gym session. Let strength be your goal, not a silhouette.
12. Don't Pull The "I Wish I Could Eat That" Line
There's nothing worse than ordering a caramel coffee with whip cream and hearing your friend sigh, "Wish I could eat calories like that." You both know what they just did: Fat shamed and took the joy out of that whipped cream. Now you both have poorer body image. None of that, please.
13. Compliment Others Around You
When you see a woman looking beautiful in her tattoo sleeves, her jelly rolls, her unexpected hair, her hairy armpits, whatever, compliment her in front of your friends. Show love for all kinds of beauty, and all kinds of traits, so those around you know there's no such thing as one standard.
14. Post Some Diversity To Your Social Media
You know how you post Kate Moss pictures on Instagram or regram blonde bloggers running across Brooklyn streets? Try posting, instead, a woman with wrinkles around her eyes and gray hair swept up, or a babe with stretch marks rocking a pinup pose. Show different kinds of beauty every time you have the chance to.
15. Remind Each Other That Your Weight Is A Super Small Detail
All it is is a number on a scale. It's not more important than how kind you are, how talented and funny you are, what you've seen, and what you're planning to still do. It's a tiny detail and part of an amazing whole.
16. Remind Each Other That It's Better To Be Comfortable
Does your friend hate skinny jeans? Not into sheer tops? Can't get down with midi hems? Let them know they don't need to wear anything they don't want to. Just because they don't feel confident in a trend (yet) doesn't mean they lose personality points.
17. Don't Pressure Each Other To Love Their "Flaws"
Sometimes people get swept away with being body positive and accidentally make those who don't necessarily love their cellulite and rolls feel bad about themselves. Remind each other that you don't necessarily have to love your flaws, you just shouldn't let them stop you from doing what you want to do or liking what you like. But you don't have to set off confetti canons over them either.
18. Every Time They Complain About A Quirk, List Why It's Important
The bump on your nose celebrates your family, your curves are soft and glorious, your thighs can run 10 miles, your strong shoulders help you cut through water, and your small boobs let you never need to spend money on a bra.
19. Teach Each Other To Accept Compliments
Don't let your friends tack on a "no, but..." when a compliment is paid. "Thank you" is sufficient enough. Accept it, marinate in it, and believe it.
20. Remind Each Other That You Don't Need To Be Other People
You have a history, personality, ambitions, stories, dreams all your own — and all those things say more about you than what your life would be like if you had straight hair like the girl sitting next to you on the subway. You don't need to change spots with anyone.
21. Ask What They Think Of Their Bodies In Private
If your friend is having an insecure moment, ask her what she thinks about her tummy when she's just sitting in her bra and watching TV, or if her thighs bother her when she's cooking breakfast in her underwear. Chances are, no, she doesn't care about them then and she shouldn't care about them now. Don't let society's standards get her down.
22. Don't Treat Eating Like An Indulgence
There's no such thing as "cheat days," "naughty days," or "splurge days." You need food to survive, so take that nonsense out of your vocabulary.
23. Talk About All The Impressive Stuff Your Bodies Can Do
Did you just do a head stand in yoga? Did your friend just beat her 10 mile run? Did someone squat 200 pounds? Bodies aren't just there to look attractive — they have the potential to go into beast mode. Celebrate that by talking about all the cool things your body can do instead of how pretty it looks in a pair of pants.
24. Send Each Other Body Posi Blogs & Posts
Whether it's on Instagram, Pinterest, bus ads, or magazine racks, we're bombarded with thin-spiration on a daily basis. Instead of fixating on thigh gaps and washboard abs, send each other body positive blogs and posts that show real women embracing their bodies and being real happy about it.
25. Correct Each Other If You Hear Body Shaming
What if your friend says something along the lines of, "Should she really be wearing a crop top?" You should answer, "If she likes it, yeah, I think she should be."
26. [Ask What's The Point Of Hurting Yourself?] Don't Hurt Your Own Feelings
I can't tell you how many times I've heard friends say, "I'd wear that too if I had your calves," or, "I can't wear dresses like that because I'm not tall like you," to which I respond, "What's the point of hurting your feelings that way?" It always gets a thoughtful pause in response, so call each other out when you criticize.
27. Swap The Word "Skinny" With "Healthy"
You're not eating a salad because it'll make you skinny, you're eating it because it'll keep you healthy. You don't eat fruits with your lunch because it'll help you lose a pant size, you're eating them because they have nutrients. Change your relationship with food, and encourage friends to do the same.
28. Join Sports Or Classes Regardless Of Your Body Type
Yoga isn't only for thin humans. Pilates isn't just for those who work out in sports bras. And you can Zumba until your thighs jiggle and play basketball until you have pit stains the size of dinner plates. You and your friends can do it all if you want to.
29. Don't Let Your Friend Say "I Can't Possibly Finish All This" When They Don't Mean It
If your friend is sitting there with a half-finished portion, going, "I could never finish such a big meal," but they're doing so in such a dejected manner that you just know it's untrue, put a lock on those kinds of comments. Remind your friend that "indulgence" isn't always such a bad thing. Sometimes, it's just living.
30. Just Take Size Out Of The Equation
Remind each other that your size literally means nothing when it comes to your self-worth. If a friend says, "God, I feel so fat today," your answer can be, "Yeah, but you just landed the job you've been working towards since college," or, "I totally admire the way you know how to throw a killer dinner party."
31. Do Things Because You Love Your Body, Not Because You Hate It
Dress up to celebrate your body, not cover it up. Eat because you want to be healthy, not because you want to shrink. Join a gym because it's fun to be active, not because you have a pant size in mind. Talk about your differences with your BFF, and embrace them.
32. Don't Judge Each Other's Beauty Routines
Is a pal going out with no makeup on? Don't tell her she needs a little mascara to look less tired. Or is a friend stepping out at 9 AM with a full smoky eye? Don't tell her she needs to tone it down. It's all beautiful, and it's all appropriate. Compliment her on her choices.
33. Don't Turn "Fat" Into A Bad Word
Fat doesn't mean ugly. Fat just means fat. If your friend describes herself as fat and with a positive attitude, don't try and take it away from her and say, "Oh no, you're skinny!" She's proud of her shape, and you're telling her not to be.
34. Take The Stigma Out Of The Jiggle
Are your friends self conscious about their thighs jiggling or showing off their tummy rolls? Take the lead: Show up to the gym in your short shorts, be the first one to whip off her shirt on the beach, show up to brunch in a crop top. You'll inspire.
35. Stop Justifying Your Food Choices
"I worked out this morning so it's OK." "I'll run this off on the treadmill." "I can't, I already ate a bag of chips this morning." You don't need to say any of that to your friends. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
36. Don't Buy Into Fashion Rules
Tall girls can wear heels, short girls can wear maxis, fat girls can wear stripes, and anyone can wear anything that strikes their fancy. Make sure you say that to your friends struggling with style.
37. Don't Correct Someone's Fluidity In Gender
If a guy friend picks up a pair of women's jeans or a girl friend ventures into the men's section and doesn't come out for the bulk of the shopping session, it doesn't require your comment. Let them develop their style how they want.
38. Repeat: Every Body Is A Bikini Body
Don't talk about getting bikini ready. You all already are.
39. Don't Treat Your Body Like A Problem You Have To Solve
You don't have to subtract, add, divide, or change anything. Remind each other of that every time body shaming starts.
40. Remind Each Other That You Can Pull Anything Off, If You Only Have The Right Attitude
41. Don't Tell A Skinny Friend To Go Eat Something Already
Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and those that are petite or bony shouldn't be made to feel like they're not acceptable.
Whether someone is round, thin, has straight hair, wild locks, or is short or tall, they all deserve your support and love. So keeping these ideas in mind, spread some body posi love in your squad — you'll all be happier for it.
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Image: Matthew Peyton/Comedy Central (1)