It’s no secret that we like to be around people who lift us up. Often, the best examples of these types of people are our group of friends. Your girl gang should be your support network, your confidantes and your biggest cheerleaders. That being said, members of even the most well-meaning, validating circles of friends can still struggle with feelings of insecurity. In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here are a few ways you can tackle this issue in your girl gang:
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#1 Create a safe space in your friend group to discuss insecurities.
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The best way to address body insecurities is to foster an encouraging and comforting space for people to bring them up in. Whether it’s in your group chats or in person, try to develop a routine where if people want to speak about their insecurities, everyone first listens and validates what the person is saying, THEN tells them that they disagree or point out what wonderful qualities the person has. The best way to foster a safe space for these discussions is to make people feel like they’ll be listened to instead of instantly shut down or bombarded with people criticizing themselves in return. Once people feel heard without judgement, then it’s a good time to gently remind them how beautiful they are and to not listen to the negative voices in their head.
#2 Recognize and capture the moments your friends are feeling confident and empowered.
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Just like we all have moments where we don’t feel great about ourselves, we also have moments we feel on top of the world. Whether it’s wearing a killer outfit to a party or acing a test, make sure your friend feels recognized for what’s making them feel great, and encourage them to embrace it themselves, by asking them questions about their achievements or offering to snap a picture of their new look. It will make them feel valued for what makes them amazing, and give them more solidified memories to look back on on days they aren’t feeling as great.
#3 Set aside time to talk about issues people your age deal with, including body image insecurities.
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Whether it’s a weekly lunch together discussing personal issues or discussing media portrayals of women while catching up with The Bachelor, take time as a group to recognize factors that contribute to women feeling badly about themselves, and brainstorm ways you can combat them as a team. Each of you is exposed to different posts, shows and news every day, so work together to combine your knowledge about what’s causes issues like negative body image and information on how to shake media expectations.
#4 Encourage healthy habits AND guilty pleasures.
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While fad dieting and the idea of a “bikini body” are dated concepts that need to be tossed aside, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing wellness and health. Group gym trips, brainstorming healthy food ideas and doing active outings like biking and skating are great ways to empower your friend group and feel great inside and out. On the other hand, on nights spent downing cookies and watching Netflix, try to eliminate guilty feelings amongst yourselves and emphasize the importance of balance between health and enjoying your favorite “unhealthy” foods and activities.
#5 Get creative when validating one another.
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Praising your friends doesn’t only have to be a verbal thing. Social media allows you to share uplifting posts with your friends, both in individual and group form! If you want a more traditional idea, a fun activity to do is have everyone in your group of friends write encouraging letters to each other about what they love about everyone. These are so heartwarming to open and read, but are equally as awesome to look back on on bad days. These little steps can help your friends feel extra cared for, and will hopefully spark some self love in them as well.
Both this week and any week, steps to lifting up the ladies around you are simpler than you might think. Set aside some time to care for yourself and others, because self love is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself and ignite in others.