Step 2: Make New Rules

Try writing out this list and taping it somewhere you'll see it all the time—your full-length mirror, perhaps, or your refrigerator or desk.

Several of the LLuminari experts agree that to cultivate self-respect, it's helpful to define some guidelines. You may want to declare in writing what you won't say and won't hear about the female body, yours included:

1. I will refrain from speaking disparagingly about my own body and weight, even during female-bonding moments. ("I can't believe I ate all that," "I look like a pig.")

2. I will avoid making negative remarks about the appearance of others. ("She shouldn't be wearing those pants," "She's porked out lately.")

3. I will consider ending a relationship with any man or woman who causes me to feel terrible about my body or tries to control me with comments about my looks.

Other tactics to try:
Arm yourself with comebacks to negative remarks about your weight, Domar suggests, like: "Why do you feel it's necessary to say that? Is it your business?" Or "How would you feel if somebody said that to you?" Or "I'm very aware of that fact. I'm trying to do something about it—and your comment isn't helping."

For one week, try not to mention appearance at all when you greet or refer to other women. Identify them by something they do.

Watch the adjectives you use when describing women you admire, especially in front of girls. "Dainty. Elegant. Petite. Delicate. Those were the deadly words for me," says nutrition and metabolism expert Pamela Peeke, MD. "When I was young, my mother would point to Audrey Hepburn and say how delicate and gorgeous she was. I was tall and athletic—throw me a ball and I'd shoot hoops. But all I could think was, 'Why couldn't I have been born delicate?' Audrey Hepburn? She was my birthweight."

Focus on developing and celebrating your own unique style. In a study by the Melpomene Institute, which does research on women and physical activity, 52 percent of girls with a poor body image almost always compared their appearance to others; only 4 percent of girls with a healthy body image did.

Next: Confronting your body itself: Learning to love eating right and and exercising


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