3. Rejection of the superwoman ideal. The idea that we have to do it all—be successful career women, caring wives and nurturing mothers, who always look great—can make it seem like we’re never good enough. The result? Our self-esteem can take a big hit.
Women who are able to reject this superwoman ideal may be better at setting realistic expectations and not beating themselves up for not being perfect in every category, which helps preserve self-esteem.
4. Positive physical self-concept. Research shows that exercising can have a strong positive effect on a woman’s body image, but only if she works out with the goal of improving her health and fitness. Women who exercise to lose weight are actually more likely to be dissatisfied with the outcome.
Snapp thinks it’s crucial to remember that fitness is about more than trying to drop a dress size. “A lot of people struggle with that,” she notes. “They go in thinking ‘I want to lose weight, lose weight, lose weight’ rather than ‘I want to be healthy.’” Adopting the right attitude can be especially tricky for young women who are still learning the hard way which foods and exercises work best for their bodies, but by focusing on more positive goals as a motivator to hit the gym, you can keep your self-esteem on the up and up.
5. Smart coping strategies. Facing worries and negative feelings head-on can help stave off self-esteem issues, especially for young women dealing with major life transitions. On the flipside, women who avoid their problems rather than actively looking for healthy ways to deal are at a greater risk for body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
As for Girls, Snapp has never seen the show, but she has browsed some of the catty chatter online: “I kept reading comments about the chubby character and looking at the pictures and thinking, ‘That girl? That’s who they think is the chubby character?’ We need to not be so quick to call out that a person is chubby when they’re more representative of what people look like. We’re not good at showing regular women. It’s not realistic and it’s not healthy.”
Lena, keep up the good work.
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