By: Nicole Hawkins, PhD

1. Avoid or decrease exposure to publications or television programs that promote unrealistic body images of women.

2. Remember that many of the images presented in the media have been computer enhanced and airbrushed. The models’ hips and waists have often been slimmed and their breasts enlarged.

3. Only 4% of women genetically have the ideal body image that is currently presented in the media, the other 96% of women must go to extreme measures to try to reach this unobtainable image.

4. Many of the women presented in the media suffer from an eating disorder or have disordered eating behaviors to maintain such low body weights.

5. Women encounter constant messages from advertising and the culture that stress dieting and obtaining the “ideal body.” Cultural standards cannot harm you unless you buy into them.

6. You don’t have to adopt these standards of thinness and beauty and pressure yourself to live up to them. When you have extreme standards, especially with your body, you will feel depressed, ashamed and guilty.

7. Start to question images presented in the media and question why women should feel compelled to “live up” to these unrealistic standards of beauty and thinness.

8. People don’t just wake up one day convinced they hate their body. It is important to determine how the messages from the media and the culture have affected your body image.

9. When your self-esteem is as negative as your body-esteem, working on improving your self-esteem can benefit your body image as well. Learning to improve body image is possible for everyone.

10. Numerous research investigations have concluded that other people do not judge you as harshly as you judge yourself. Learning to accept yourself for who you are is the best defense against cultural messages.