Some experts advise parents not to make their children hug or kiss relatives.
Katia Hetter is a CNN features writer who covers parenting, relationships, books, entertainment and travel. This story has been updated from a version published in 2012.
(CNN)My daughter occasionally goes on a hugging and kissing strike.
She’s 7, and she’s been holding these wildcat strikes since she was 3 or 4. Her parents can get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least not all the time. And I won’t make her.
“I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it,” I first told her three years ago.
“I don’t have to?” she asked, cuddling up to me at bedtime, confirming the facts to be sure.
No, she doesn’t have to. And just to be clear, there is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.
It doesn’t belong to her parents, uncles and aunts, school teachers or soccer coach. While she must treat people with respect, she doesn’t have to offer physical affection to please them. And the earlier she learns ownership of herself and responsibility for her body, the better for her.
I shudder at recent stories of Josh Duggar’s “inappropriate touching” of his sisters, accusations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted women after drugging them and Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of sexually abusing young boys. And they strengthen my resolve to teach my kid that it’s OK to say no to an adult who lays a hand on her — even a seemingly friendly hand.
“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,” said Irene van der Zande, co-founder and executive director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit specializing in teaching personal safety and violence prevention.
“This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’ “
Protection against predators
Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. None of the child victims of sexual abuse or assault she’s counseled was attacked by strangers, she said.
Sometimes a child picks up on something odd about your brother-in-law that no one knows. Maybe he isn’t a sexual predator. Maybe he has no sense of boundaries. Maybe he tickles too much, which can be torture for a person who doesn’t like it. Or he may be a predator.
“It sends a message that there are certain situations (when) it’s not up to them what they do with their bodies,” Wagner said. “If they are obligated to be affectionate even if they don’t want to, it makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse later on.”
Why wait until there’s trouble? Parenting coach Sharon Silver worked hard to cultivate her children’s detector. Silver says her sons easily pick up on subtle clues that suggest something isn’t quite right about particular people or situations.
In your child’s case, it may be that something’s off about Aunt Linda or the music teacher down the street.
“It’s something inside of you that tells you when something is wrong,” Silver said. Training your child to pay attention to those instincts may protect him or her in the future.
Having sex to please someone else
Would you want your daughter to have sex with her boyfriend simply to make him happy? Parents who justify ordering their children to kiss grandma may say, “It’s different.”
No, it’s not, according to author Jennifer Lehr, who blogs about her parenting style. Ordering children to kiss or hug an adult they don’t want to touch teaches them to use their body to please you or someone else in authority or, really, anyone.
“The message a child gets is that not only is another person’s emotional state their responsibility but that they must also sacrifice their own bodies to buoy another’s ego or satisfy their desire for love or affection,” Lehr said.
“Certainly no parent would wish for their teenager or adult child to feel pressure to reciprocate unwanted sexual advances, yet many teach their children at a young age that it’s their job to use their bodies to make others happy.”
We can’t be rude
You might think my daughter’s shiftless parents are not teaching her manners, but that’s not true. She has to say “please” and “thank you,” set the table, clear her dishes and thank everyone and everything that makes her meals possible.
She has be polite when greeting people, whether she knows them or not. When family and friends say hello, I give her the option of “a hug or a high-five.” Since she’s been watching adults greet each other with a handshake, she sometimes offers that option. We talk about high-fives so often she’s started using them to meet anyone, which can make the start of any social occasion look like a touchdown celebration.
“When kids are really little and shy, parents can start to offer them choices for treating people with respect and care,” van der Zande said. “By age 6 or 7, even shy kids can shake somebody’s hand or wave or do something to communicate respect and care. Manners — treating people with respect and care — is different than demanding physical displays of affection.”
It creates more work
Refusing to order her to hand out hugs or kisses on demand means there’s more work to keep the relationships going and keep feelings from being hurt. Most of our extended family live far away, so it’s my job to teach my kiddo about people she doesn’t see on a daily basis.
We make sure to keep in contact with calls and Skype and presents. In advance of loved ones’ visits, which often means an all-day plane ride, I talk a lot about our guests, what they mean to me and what we’re going to do when they arrive. I give them plenty of opportunity to interact with her so she can learn to trust them.
I explain to relatives who want to know why we’re letting her decide who she touches. There will be no obligation or a direct order from Mom.
And while I hope I’m teaching my child how to take care of herself in the future, there are benefits to allowing her to express affection in her own way and on her own timeline. When my child cuddles up to my mother on the sofa, happily talking to her about her favorite books and Girl Scouts and other things, my mother’s face lights up. She knows my daughter’s love is real.
When it comes to avoiding that hangry feeling, the best defense is a good offense. And a good offense consists mostly of snacks.
That means planning ahead and stocking up on healthy options you’ll actually keep in your kitchen/purse/office fridge/pockets/whatever.
Because when you have zero time in your day and need to grab something fast, you’ll go for the peanut butter cup every damn time. BUT if you already have something satisfying and better for you on hand: snack win!
HOWEVER, if you hear one more person call a handful of almonds a snack, you can rightfully throw it in their face.
Here are 23 better, more interesting options that will awaken your starving soul.
They’ve all been made (and devoured) by real, seriously healthy people who say things like “satiety” and “fuel your body.” Steal their snackspiration so you’ll never have to go head-to-head with the vending machine again.
1. Open-Faced PB & Blueberries
“This is one of my favorite snacks. Almond butter is a great way to start the day with some awesome protein. And blueberries are my favorite fruit because they’re super low in sugar. When I eat bread it’s ONLY Ezekiel, which is a sprouted grain bread that has no yeast.” —Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Miracles Now
2. Egg and Apple Combo
“Eating should stimulate all of our senses, and a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg is about as good as it gets for me. Paired with a green apple, this is the perfect snack to satisfy any hunger and please your palate as well.” —Aaron Flores, RDN, California-based nutritionist specializing in intuitive eating and Healthy at Every Size (HAES)
3. Spiced Apple Chips
“The recipe is incredibly simple — only very thinly sliced apples sprinkled with a little apple pie spice and popped in the oven on a low temperature for a couple hours. The outcome is nutritious and delicious and a great substitute for fried chips. My husband and I brought a bunch of them hiking with us — they make a great portable snack.” —Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, founder of fANNEtasticfood.com
4. Avocado Toast
“My favorite way to eat avocados is smashed onto toast with a sprinkle of salt and a few red pepper flakes. If I’m really hungry I add a fried egg. The healthy fat from avocado plus carbohydrates from bread makes it ultra-satisfying and always delicious.” —Amelia Winslow, MS, MPH, nutritionist and founder of Eating Made Easy
5. Spicy And Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
“I like this as a snack for when I’m craving something savory. The crunchy bite size peas are also loaded with protein and fiber, so a little goes a long way.” —Nita Sharda, RD, owner of Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting (See the full recipe here.)
6. Banana Nut Toast
“This is a slice of sprouted wheat bread with ½ tablespoon almond butter, ½ tablespoon peanut butter, ¼ sliced banana and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts on top — with an optional sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle of honey. This delicious snack packs a protein and fiber punch guaranteed to keep you full in between meals.” —Anjali Shah, board certified health coach and founder of The Picky Eater
7. A Makeshift Pudding Cup
“Greek yogurt mixed with some chocolate protein powder and raspberries makes for a perfect high-protein snack under 200 calories. You’re getting a good source of probiotics from the Greek yogurt, antioxidants and fiber from the raspberries, and an extra boost of protein from half a scoop of whey protein.” —Katie Yip, New York City-based Pilates teacher
8. Miso Zoodle Soup
“I love noodle soup, but most are just carb bombs in a bowl. I used my new spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, then whipped up miso broth, which contains probiotics that boost gut health by supporting digestion, and then tossed in some carrots, mushrooms, ginger, and spinach.” —Michele Promaulayko, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Health and author of the new book 20 Pounds Younger
9. Blueberry Coconut Balls
“These no-bake snack balls are made with antioxidant-rich frozen wild blueberries. If you eat them right away they are super cold and refreshing, but if you let them thaw a bit they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!” (See the full recipe here.) —Danielle Omar, MS, RD
10. A Picturesque Cheese Plate
“This is a simple, on-the-fly appetizer made up of stuff I had in the fridge — olives, grape tomatoes, caper berries. Anchoring the plate is a hunk of feta cheese that I dressed up with some chopped oregano from the garden and red onion.” —Monica Reinagel, licensed nutritionist and host of the Nutrition Diva podcast
11. Fruit Pizza
“This watermelon ‘pizza’ is a perfect low-calorie treat that satisfies the sweet tooth, replenishes your muscles, and hydrates your body. Ideal for a hot summer day, a party snack, or post-workout, since it will help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles and aid recovery. Both the watermelon and banana also help with bloating! ” —Idalis Velazquez, NASM-CPT, founder of IV Fitness
12. A Loaded Sweet Potato
“My favorite mid-morning snack is a leftover roasted sweet potato, split open and stuffed with a couple dollops of plain Greek yogurt. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sprinkle it with furikake, a super-flavorful Japanese seasoning mix with toasted nori and sesame seeds. With all the protein, healthy carbs, and fiber, it’s a snack that keeps me satisfied for hours.” —Anjali Prasertong, contributing editor at The Kitchn and graduate student studying to become a registered dietitian
13. A Fruit Smoothie That Only Looks Like a Daiquiri
“California Sunshine Smoothie! Yummy — 139 calories and 7 grams of fiber. Try it! All organic: 10 strawberries, 1 orange, ½ a medium banana, 1 cup of ice, and water!” —Jeanette Jenkins, president of The Hollywood Trainer
14. Cheese, Crackers, Tomatoes, and Veggies
“This great combination keeps you full and promotes satiety. Protein comes from the delicious mozzarella cheese (a low-fat selection), the fiber comes from the high-fiber crackers (one with 5 grams of fiber or more), and vegetables!” —Shelly Marie Redmond, RD, author of Eat Well and Be Fabulous
15. Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
16. Apple Peanut Butter Toasts
“A good, satisfying, filling snack and the tasty health benefits of cinnamon and SunButter — a healthy option for anyone with nut allergies. It also has more unsaturated fat, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E than peanut butter.” —David Kirsch, celebrity trainer and founder of David Kirsch Wellness
17. Cheddar Kale Chips
“Dedicated to all the people who are over ridiculously priced kale chips. These savory chips make for the perfect snack, and won’t hurt your pockets.” (See the full recipe here.) —Wendy Lopez, nutritionist, and Jessica Jones, MS, RD, co-hosts of Food Heaven Made Easy
18. A Cookie You Can Make IN A PAN
“Cookies have been a great tool for me when I train really hard in the gym and need a carbohydrate or sugar boost to refuel my muscle and liver glycogen. Often store-bought cookies are too high in fat to be a good post-workout tool. Therefore, I get creative in my kitchen and got obsessed with a cookie that gets cooked in a pan. I dreamed of something that was part pancake, part gooey and crunchy cookie! This is ¼ cup quick-cooking oats, 1 tablespoon coconut flour, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, 1 whole egg, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, and a dash of salt. Stir it up and add a splash of milk if needed for consistency. Cook in a nonstick pan sprayed with coconut oil. Cook on low and flip when it starts to bubble — just like when cooking pancakes. It’s only 330 calories!” —Holly Perkins, CSCS, author of the upcoming Lift to Get Lean
19. Crudités For One
“This is what I typically eat as a mid-morning snack. It is carrot sticks, celery sticks, half an avocado, beetroot, and spinach, accompanied with almond butter and cottage cheese. This gives the perfect balance of protein and veggies to keep me satisfied and full until the next meal.” —Aina Hussain, registered nutritionist and founder of The Fruitful Foodie
20. Cauliflower Fries
From her Instagram: “I just made French fries out of cauliflower and @questnutrition protein powder. Hey! Don’t say ew until you try it. It’s seriously amazing!” (See the full recipe here.) —Cassey Ho, creator of POP Pilates
21. This Bright and Cheery Deliciousness
“I love because it I looove fresh fruit and veggies — and goat cheese and avocado call my name regularly! It’s a perfect mini meal or snack, because it’s packed with nutrients including antioxidants and fiber to help keep you full. Plus the healthy fat in avocado provides satiety, and who doesn’t love the sweetness of mango and taste of goat cheese? The combo may seem funny, but it is a real food combo that is a winning gem. Promise!” —Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, author of The New You and Improved Diet
22. Kale Guacamole Wraps
“Just wilt kale or any other leafy green by soaking in warm water for a few minutes, then stuff with whatever you want and enjoy!” (See the full recipe here.) —Wendy Lopez, nutritionist, and Jessica Jones, MS, RD, co-hosts of Food Heaven Made Easy
23. A Smoothie In A Bowl
“One of my favorite snacks is a smoothie made with oats served in a bowl. This one is a cup of frozen berries, half a banana, a cup of milk, and a quarter cup of oats thrown in a blender, then topped with toasted buckwheat and nut butter. The oats give the smoothie a nice doughy taste, plus they amp up the nutrition with extra fiber and energy! And enjoying it as a ‘soup’ means I savor every last bite.” —Kath Younger, RD, founder of Kath Eats Real Food
These people might look like underwear models, but they’re not. And 30 days before this photo was taken, they didn’t look like this.
In fact, they were just regular people who worked for an advertising agency and, while they worked out a fair amount, they ate pretty much what they pleased.
But in just a few weeks, the women slimmed down to have as little as 12% to 14% body fat and the man had just 5% to 6% body fat.
And that woman on the left? She was pregnant just five months before the photo was taken.
The key to their success: A low-fat, high-protein diet and intense, professionally guided exercise. They also had some good motivation from their employer: They were asked to be models in an upcoming photo shoot for their agency’s rebranding, posing buck naked.
Why they chose to pose buck naked
The three extreme dieters work for Viceroy Creative, an advertising agency that wanted to rebrand itself in a powerful way last March. As part of the rebranding, they asked some of their key executives to be part of a buzzy photo shoot that would present them totally nude.
The participants were the firm’s creative director Gabrielle Rein, account manager Raegan Gillette, and president David Moritz — the naked man in the photos. Mortiz tells AdWeek they agreed to the shoot for the good of the company and their clients.
Getting model-thin in a hurry took a great deal of mental and physical endurance, and it’s that kind of diligent dedication that Viceroy wanted to communicate in their new campaign, Moritz tells Business Insider.
How they got rock-hard abs in such a short time
Before they started preparing for the shoot, Viceroy’s executives were in decent shape. Still, each worked hard those final weeks to get ready for the big nude day. Here’s a picture of a topless Moritz two years before the training began:
(Courtesy of David Moritz)
Gabrielle Rein, Viceroy’s creative director, had a baby just a few months earlier, so the preparation was especially challenging and rewarding.
When they agreed to the nude photo shoot last year, they gave themselves five months to get fit.
For the first four months, they completed a series of trainings designed to strengthen their muscles, bolster their cardiovascular strength, and increase their metabolism. Here’s the company’s account manager, Raegan Gillette, doing one of the exercises:
But those four months of exercises weren’t what ultimately got them the sculpted bodies in the photos.
Diet was the key to their success
“No matter how much exercise you do, that will only get you part of the way. In terms of seeing abs and muscle definition, it’s all about diet and reducing your body fat percentage. That’s essential,” Moritz says.
For the last four weeks, the Viceroy executives committed to a grueling diet. The goal, said Moritz, was to cut body fat so that the muscles they’d been toning for the previous four months would shine through.
Each executive ate six meals a day, catered specifically to their needs by a nutritionist. Although each diet was unique, the meals mostly consisted of the same types of food, Moritz says, and included a lot of protein.
“You need [protein] to continue to build muscle,” Moritz explains. “Which is a little bit more than one gram of protein per every pound that you weigh.”
For Moritz — who was still able to recite the diet by heart months after the shoot — the meals consisted of:
- Meal 1: 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup blueberries, one scoop carb-free protein shake
- Meal 2: 3 egg whites, 1/4 cup plain potatoes
- Meal 3: 3 oz. ground turkey, low-carb wrap with a cup of romaine lettuce
- Meal 4: 3 oz. grilled chicken and 1/4 of an avocado
- Meal 5: 6 oz. fish with a 1/4 cup steamed jasmine rice and six pieces of asparagus
- Meal 6: 6 oz. of 99% lean ground beef with 1/4 avocado and 1 cup romaine lettuce
- No alcohol was allowed and most condiments were banned (with the exception of hot sauce, since it added a negligible amount of extra sugar or fat)
That’s it, each and every day, for an entire month! At first they had the meals prepared for them by a chef but that quickly became too expensive to maintain. They began preparing the meals themselves, which required a scale and measuring cups to make sure they consumed exactly what the nutritionist ordered.
Despite consuming significantly fewer calories than he was used to, Moritz said he didn’t feel too many negative effects from the strict plan, aside from boredom from the food.
“You don’t feel tired because your body is getting what it needs,” said Moritz.
Moritz pointed out that he was at about 5% body fat on the day of the photo shoot, which is close to the lowest a man his age and height should be. Body builders have between 3.5% and 5% body fat on competition day.
The number of calories they burned versus how many they ate
If you add it up, Moritz consumed roughly 1,700 calories per day, far fewer than the 2,400 to 2,500 calories he was burning throughout the day, he tells Business Insider.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a man his age and height should be consuming at least 1,600 calories a day even if they’re trying to lose weight. So he was pushing the bare minimum.
The women were eating about 1,300 calories and burning 2,000 calories each day. For them, the Mayo Clinic estimates that women in their age and height ranges should eat at least 1,200 calories a day even if they’re trying to lose weight.
“The plan puts you in a relatively significant caloric deficit every day,” Moritz says. “And it forces your body to burn stored fat.”
In addition to the diet, the executives stuck to a grueling fitness routine. All of them worked out every day for an hour and a half, seven days a week with the help of professional trainers at their local Equinox gym.
The exercises included intense weight lifting and low-impact cardiovascular activities — like walking on a treadmill set with the highest incline — that burned most of the large amount calories they were losing each day. The rest were lost through regular daily activities like walking.
Here’s Gillette doing one of the weight-lifting exercises:
The regimen wasn’t cheap. The nutritionist Viceroy used charges $700 a person for a month-long program. And an average Equinox Tier 3+ trainer — the most intense trainer you can get at Equinox — costs $135 per session, and each exec was completing a few sessions a week during the entire training process.
Moritz says anyone can get into this kind of shape given the time and motivation, however.
“While we did it with a lot of extensive help, a person can do this on their own given just a little more time,” Moritz says. “Follow the same basic principles and find a way to get really motivated. It’s just all mental.”
For Moritz and the rest of the team, the motivator that kept them dedicated was a pretty strong one:
“Knowing that you’re going to send naked pictures of yourself to as many people as you can makes you stay with it,” he says.
After the shoot, Moritz, Rein, and Bearce slowly regained some of their body fat to a more reasonable amount, but they continued to stick with a modified version of the diet.
For Moritz, the five-month regimen was only a beginning. Since the photo shoot, he’s stuck with it. (He now uses a food-delivery service to stick with his diet.) By the end of the summer, he says, that he suspects he’ll even be in better shape than he was in March. Rein also kept her beautiful post-baby physique, getting into increasingly better shape even after the training was over, Moritz said.
Here’s what she looks like months later and after feasting on ribs, BBQ, and hamburgers over Memorial Day weekend of this year. She’s 31 years old.
(Courtesy of Gabrielle Rein)
We brought in professional athletes of all shapes and sizes to discuss insecurities they might have with their seemingly “perfect” bodies, and they proved that body image issues don’t affect one shape.
Achieving the “perfect body” becomes a constant pressure at a young age, even with the fittest of the fit.
… to football, there’s always a push to look like the ideal athlete.
But, throughout their time as an athlete, they all realized their “flaws” were what made them unique, and even gave them an added advantage in their sport.
And when all is said and done, there’s only one thing that matters:
After all, perfection is overrated.
Some people have the misfortune to have been born to abusive parents who belittled them and prevented them from developing a healthy self-esteem. Others are born predisposed to view themselves in a negative light because of their physical appearance, a disability, or for no reason anyone, including themselves, knows. Research has consistently supported the notion that it’s difficult to be happy without liking oneself. But how can one learn to like oneself when one doesn’t?
WHAT PART OF OURSELVES DO WE DISLIKE?
People filled with self-loathing typically imagine they dislike every part of themselves, but this is rarely, if ever, true. More commonly, if asked what specific parts of themselves they dislike, they’re able to provide specific answers: their physical appearance, their inability to excel academically or at a job, or maybe their inability to accomplish their dreams. Yet when presented, for example, a scenario in which they come upon a child trapped under a car at the scene of an accident, that they recoil in horror and would want urgently to do something to help rarely causes them to credit themselves for the humanity such a reaction indicates.
Why do self-loathers so readily overlook the good parts of themselves? The answer in most cases turns out to relate not to the fact that they have negative qualities but to the disproportionate weight they lend them. People who dislike themselves may acknowledge they have positive attributes but any emotional impact they have simply gets blotted out.
THE SOURCE OF SELF-LOATHING
Which makes learning to like oneself no easy task. Many people, in fact, spend a lifetime in therapy in pursuit of self-love, struggling as if learning a new language as an adult rather than as a child.
Before such a change will occur, however, the essential cause of one’s self-loathing needs to be apprehended. By this I don’t mean the historical cause. The circumstances that initially lead people to dislike themselves do so by triggering a thought process of self-loathing that continues long after the circumstances that set it in motion have resolved, a thought process that continues to gain momentum the longer it remains unchallenged, much like a boulder picks up speed rolling down a mountain as long as nothing gets in its way. For example, your parents may have failed to praise you or support your accomplishments in school when you were young—perhaps even largely ignored you—which led you to conclude they didn’t care about you, which then led you to conclude you’re not worth caring about. It’s this last idea, not the memory of your parents ignoring you, that gathers the power within your life to make you loathe yourself if not checked by adult reasoning early on. Once a narrative of worthlessness embeds itself in one’s mind, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to disbelieve it, especially when one can find evidence that it represents a true account.
But a narrative is just that: a story we tell ourselves. It may very well contain elements of truth—that we are unattractive, that we do fail a lot of the time, or that our parents didn’t find us all that lovable—but to proceed from facts such as these to the conclusion that we’re deserving only of our own derision constitutes a significant thought error.
THE TRUE SOURCE OF SELF-ESTEEM
The problem is that we common mortals can hardly avoid deriving our self-esteem from the wrong source—even those of us whose self-esteem is healthy. We look to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed the “smaller self,” the parts of ourselves that seem better than those of others and to which we become overly attached. In other words, we ground our self-esteem in things about ourselves we perceive as unique: typically our looks, our skills, or our accomplishments.
But we only need to experience the loss of any one of these supportive elements to recognize the danger of relying on them to create our self-esteem. Looks, as we all know, fade. Unwanted weight is often gained. Illness sometimes strikes, preventing us from running as fast, concentrating as hard, or thinking as clearly as we once did. Past accomplishments lose their ability to sustain us the farther into the past we have to look for them.
I’m not arguing that basing our self-esteem on our positive qualities is wrong. But we should aim to base it on positive qualities that require no comparison to the qualities of others for us to value them. We must awaken to the essential goodness—to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed our “larger self”—that lies within us all. If we want to fall in love with our lives—and by this I don’t mean the “we” of our small-minded egos—we must work diligently to manifest our larger selves in our daily lives. We must generate the wisdom and compassion to care for others until we’ve turned ourselves, piece by piece, into the people we most want to be.
In other words, if we want to like ourselves we have to earn our own respect. Luckily, doing this doesn’t require that we become people of extraordinary physical attractiveness or accomplishment. It only requires we become people of extraordinary character—something anyone can do.
A simple thought experiment supports this notion: think right now of your favorite person and ask yourself, what is it about them that attracts you the most? Odds are it isn’t their physical appearance or their accomplishments but rather their magnanimous spirit; the way they treat others. This is the key quality that makes people likable, even to themselves.
Treating others well, it turns out, is the fastest path to a healthy self-esteem. If you dislike yourself, stop focusing on your negative qualities. We all have negative qualities. There’s nothing special about your negativity, I promise you. Focus instead on caring for others. Because the more you care about others, I guarantee the more in turn you’ll be able to care about yourself.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore Dr. Lickerman’s home page, Happiness in this World(link is external).
Fitness blogger and personal trainer Cassey Ho is tired of receiving negative comments about her appearance.
In a poignant YouTube video titled “The Perfect Body,” Ho alters herself in response to online criticism of her body.
“In this video, you will experience what it feels like to be constantly bombarded with outrageous negativity,” Ho wrote in a blog post introducing the video. “You will see what it looks like to have your self-esteem stripped away. You will read real comments left by real people. You will see me struggle with my own appearance.”
In “The Perfect Body,” Ho “makes changes” to herself including slimming her waist, increasing her bust and changing the color of her eyes. Ho wrote that she was tired of receiving negative comments and wanted to make a stand against cyber bullying.
“So what if I changed?” Ho wrote. “What if I had a slimmer waist and a bigger butt? Would everyone be happy then? What if I lived in a world where I could photoshop my body in real life? Would I be happy then?”
Watch the full video above.
Today I was fat shamed.
I had been craving cheese fries and Nathan’s hot dog nuggets all day long….ALL DAY LONG. It was a strong craving, so I decided to treat myself to 15 pieces of hot dog nuggets and cheese fries with extra cheese.
First of all I was the only woman on-line for fast food, which made me feel supper weird and uncomfortable. But I pushed through, even though I felt like I was standing out and that people were silently judging me I decided to not let their ignorance get in the way of my meal. So I ordered, in an albeit hushed voice…especially when I asked for the extra cheese.
So I was already feeling fat and uncomfortable after I had placed and picked up my order. When on-line I noticed women eyeing me, you know that up and down look of judgment that says “who does she think she is” or “what’s wrong with her.” These silent looks of judgment reveal that they secretly have deep held insecurities, so again I pushed through.
But the final hit came when I stepped up to the cashier. She asked what I had ordered and I told her “large cheesy fires with 15 pieces of hot dog nuggets.” Her response, a facial expression of shock and judgment followed by the question “15?!”, which was really a statement of judgment rather than a question. Of course being me, I made excuses for my order saying that “it was just one of those days.” What really sucks is that I felt the need to excuse myself, like I had made a mistake. I was craving for cheesy fries and hot dog nuggets, I don’t eat it everyday and I was so damn tired of salad. So what the hell is wrong with a little salty fried cheesy goodness every once in a while?
This is the reason I deal with so much self-hate. Not because I innately hate myself, but because everyone else makes me feel like crap, like something is wrong with me, and like I should hate myself.
Today brought to mind a video I recently watched on “feeling fat.” It speaks to the truth of body shamming, acceptance, and self-love. The struggle for self-love is so real, and Caroline Rothstein speaks to it with grace, confidence, and honesty.
Wishing you self-love and acceptance.
Loving the body positive message of this article and the campaign. Yes, woman do not appreciate and accept their bodies (I am one of them). This fact is unfortunate; I often find myself wondering what it would feel like if I really loved myself. This is a great read!
Anyone can be a gorgeous, glamorous pin-up model.
That’s the idea behind Shameless Photography, started by photographer Sophie Spinelle in 2009. Spinelle, alongside fellow photographers Carey Lynne and Maxine Nienow, aims to help clients feel beautiful and confident in their bodies during their photoshoots. The result is sexy, feminist, body-positive images.
(Some images below may be considered NSFW.)
As well as providing commercial photoshoots, Shameless hosts a yearly “Love Your Body” competition, inviting women to write love letters to their bodies for the chance to win a photoshoot with the Shameless team. More importantly, according to Spinelle, the letters create a sense of online community, and spread the message of body love.
“We get hundreds of amazing letters from around the world,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “People with cancer, rape survivors, mothers of seven, trans women, pole dancers — you name it. We post a selection of the letters and invite people to read them and share them.”
“Doing this work has transformed my life,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “I’ve met the most amazing people, and they’ve been brave enough to share their fears and dreams with me, and to have that become part of the photographs. I’ve learned how rare confidence really is, and how precious. You’d be amazed how many truly beautiful people have no idea that they’re beautiful, and it has a huge affect on what they feel is possible for their lives.”
Spinelle hopes that clients and strangers alike will be inspired by the images and learn to love their bodies.
“The most important audience for the Shameless pinups series is the models themselves,” Spinelle told HuffPost. “I hope that when they look at these images, they can see how truly powerful, inspiring, and soul-deep beautiful they really are.”
See more incredible photographs from Shameless Photography below.
6 health lies you probably believe, because I know I still do. This stuff is crazy…the magic of marketing, making you believe things that are just not true. Well BuzzFeed will happily pull the wool from our eyes on this Salubrious Saturday. Does this mean I am going to stop washing my face, not likely but at least I’m a little wiser. Plus meat on your head….eww. Enjoy!