Self-acceptance now has science backing it up: a study conducted at the University of Waterloo found that women with higher self-compassion also tend to have a better body image. Previous research (and, honestly, common sense) has shown that body image and self-esteem are linked, so what makes this news any different? Most research looks at self-esteem, which is not the same thing as self-compassion. Self-esteem is "evaluating oneself above average," according to Dr. Allison Kelly, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo. It's important for overall self-worth but not very helpful when it comes to acknowledging your flaws. Self-compassion, on the other hand, involves acknowledging and accepting flaws as part of life. The study surveyed 153 undergraduate women, using self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI). The results of the study showed that, regardless of BMI, women with higher self-compassion have better body image and eating habits. These women tolerate their shortcomings without denying their existence, which is also linked to handling stress better. Dr. Kelly notes that higher self-compassion may make women (and men) less prone to using unhealthy eating as a coping mechanism. With 20 million women and 10 million men suffering from eating disorders at some point in their lives, this knowledge could be used to inform programs intended to prevent eating disorders.
This research joins other studies showing that body image has benefits beyond confidence, but it's also important to note that self-worth based solely on appearance has its own consequences. So remember, your rockin' bod is only one of many fabulous things about you!
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