How can gratitude practices be harnessed to accommodate the negative affects of both internal and external dialogue on girls’ body image?

What You Need To Know

Throughout social media and pop culture, young girls are incessantly bombarded with dramatically retouched images of models who they are taught to emulate. In reality, it is nearly impossible to achieve the appearance of these altered images, even for the models themselves.

While women often feel that they are alone in disliking their body, in fact most of their peers are experiencing the exact same form of self-deprecation. After conducting a of young women across the country, Glamour Magazine reports that a shocking 97% of respondents have at least one negative thought about their body per day. Through this and other research, I found that a community of women with shared trauma already existed – I just needed to find a way to unite them.

I asked myself…

How can gratitude be harnessed for the use of bettering one’s body image?

My Response: What Can We Do?

I decided to work on a workshop that could implemented in high schools that foster positive girl-to-girl discussions relating to body image. By uniting girls to discuss a topic that is often considered taboo, it strengthens their bonds with one another and creates a space for them to talk about overcoming their insecurities. Below is a curated list of positive psychology gratitude practices designed to boost women’s confidence through both self-promotion and the encouragement of their peers. 

  • Journal (in detail!) about one meaningful physical activity that your body allows you to do (10-15 min)
  • Tell a friend one thing you like about their appearance (3 min)
  • Write down a compliment someone has given you that made you feel good about your appearance (5 min)
  • Identify three things you take for granted about your body (5 min)
  • For every part of your body that you dislike, write down something you are grateful for that this part of your body allows you to do (15 min)
  • Journal about a way that you have experienced a gift from your body recently (10-15 min)
  • Share with a friend one way that you remind yourself of your body’s worth (5 min)
  • Post sticky notes on your mirror and laptop that remind you of your body’s worth (10 min)

How Will You Get Involved?

I would love to know your thoughts and reactions to both my research and chosen response. Please let me know by answering one of the following questions in the comments below:

  • How do you resonate with girls who experience negative thoughts about their body image?
  • Do you think that knowing how widespread the experience is will help create a community of girls who aren’t afraid to help each other overcome their insecurities?
  • What gratitude practice sounds the most appealing to you and why?
  • What gratitude practice would you add to the list?

Works Cited and Consulted

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  1. April 24, 2020 by gayatri

    Hi Charlotte! Your website is super well organized, I love the infographics! In response to your second question, body image is something I’ve struggled with, and I definitely think that through more open conversation, especially with other girls my age who shared my experiences, allowed me to feel more comfortable with my body, and made us all way less likely to criticize others’ bodies.

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad that you like it! Talking openly with other girls who empathize with what I feel definitely helps me too, which is why I’m hoping a workshop will work with girls like us! I hope some of the practices I talked about can help you with your own body image as well!

  2. April 25, 2020 by Paige

    I love your project, well done! I truly think this could make a positive difference in women’s lives. One question- would you try to make this a regular occurence in the girls’ lives, or is it a one-time thing? I feel like doing this on a schedule would really help solidify the practices in their minds!

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you, I hope it can too! I would definitely try to make this into a long term practice for girls to do on their own, as well as potentially having a weekly group that met and did different workshop activities together! I think you’re very right – a set schedule definitely helps ingrain the practice!

  3. April 25, 2020 by Annie Manassee

    I think this is a super important topic and something that needs to be addressed. I appreciate you bringing it up, putting thought into it, and sharing with everyone else. I really love your examples and infographics that help break up the text and give some more visual examples. I love what you have done so far and I think it needs to be shared all around! I also love the suggestions on how to get involved.

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you – I definitely agree that this is something that needs to be talked about more! I’m glad that the images helped make the presentation less overwhelming to read, and I hope that the gratitude practices are useful for you or someone in your life!

  4. April 25, 2020 by Mahika

    Hi, Charlotte! I love your project. I love the positive psychology practices at the bottom and have saved them in my notes to practice in the future. I absolutely resonate with girls who have concerns about their body image. I don’t think it has only to do with size, even; I am a size 0, and I still struggle with my self-image because of seeing filtered images of people with perfect skin, hair, nails, etc in social media and magazines. We are constantly getting subliminal messages from social media that we are not good enough. I have a similar question to Paige — how do we make sure these practices are adopted? In schools, after school, through sharing on social media, etc.?

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you so much!! I’m so glad that you saved the practices in your notes – they are definitely things that have helped me personally in the past and I really hope they can do the same for you! I definitely agree with you – social media makes it so that no one is ever good enough – even the models and influencers we look up to and think are perfect! I love your question – I think it’s definitely important to have a group of girls at each school that can be student leaders who facilitate workshops and encourage their peers to participate, as well as sharing information on social media. We can use the very tool that is used against us in so many ways to help our cause!

  5. April 26, 2020 by Mu

    Hello Charlotte, nice webpage the infographic really helped understand why body-shaming is such an issue and it is good to know we can do something about it and thinking about it through the lens of positive psychology. I think when we think about body-shaming we think about plus-sized women, however, I feel like there is a culture where plus-sized women can also shame skinny women. Therefore, that sort of conversation is in the grey area which would be interesting if you elaborated on that.

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you! I’m glad you found the presentation informative! I think it’s definitely possible for anyone to feel less than because they don’t fit into the mold of a “perfect body”, and women of every body type can feel insecure about their bodies! Thank you for pointing that out 🙂

  6. April 26, 2020 by Jaya

    Hey Charlotte! I love the content and layout of your page for this project! This is a struggle that I face every single day, so I appreciate the gratitude activities that I can start doing. I think my favorite one is writing down three things about my body I take for granted because it will allow me to focus on the parts I am happy about as opposed to the parts I am not happy with. Thank you!

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you! I’m so glad that these gratitude practices are useful to you – I really hope they help change the way you perceive your body image! Stay strong – you got this!

  7. April 26, 2020 by Maya

    Hi Charlotte! This was a great presentation, and I really like your workshop idea. In terms of your last question, while the issue of body image is so so important, it’s also crucial to not forget insecurities surrounding what’s inside (personality etc). I would add a gratitude section about each girl’s personality and what they like about themselves. I would also probably want to throw in a compliment section for personality as well. Like your infographic shares, feeling confident in your body and yourself leads to a healthier lifestyle. Your webpage was super easy to read and process and I really enjoyed reading it. Awesome job!

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you! What you said is so true! While it’s important to feel good about your body, reminding yourself of your amazing personality will definitely help with your overall attitude towards yourself and the way you treat yourself. Thank you for the suggestion!

  8. April 26, 2020 by sylvia

    Hey Charlotte! Thank you for choosing and discussing this topic as it is one that we should spend more time talking about. Sharing your own thoughts about insecurities is very hard for everyone, and this is why I really love your project and ideas because it gives girls a positive place where they can really work towards coming to terms with the person that they are. Not only recognizing and talking about the body insecurities that you may have but having people going through the same challenges can be very beneficial for a multitude of women’s self-confidence. Thank you 🙂

    • April 27, 2020 by Charlotte

      Thank you! I agree with you 100% – negative body image is something every girl experiences, so why don’t we ever talk about it?! I love the power of a community of resilient girls, and I really wanted to harness that in my presentation. I’m glad you think it would be helpful! Sometimes the most important thing we need is to know that we’re not alone, right?

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