Guest Blog by Christina Verzijl
Some days looking in the mirror can be more upsetting than anything else. On those days, thoughts tend to flood my mind that are centered on the parts I don’t like about myself like, “I hate my thighs” or “I wish my stomach was flatter.” In today’s society, the mirror represents a way for girls and women to pick apart their flaws and find all the parts of themselves that need “fixing.”
But, have no fear because I have discovered a new way to use and love the mirror! In a sense, we are taking back the mirror and using it to show our strengths rather than concentrating on the aspects society tells us are flaws. In the Body Project Program, we call this exercise the Mirror Exercise. The Mirror Exercise consists of standing in front of the mirror, with as little clothing as possible and writing a list of 10-15 positive characteristics or qualities you are satisfied with. These characteristics include both emotional and physical qualities. And most importantly, we can like certain body parts for how they look, but also for what they can do for us. For instance, I love my muscular legs for how they look, but I also like them for how they help me run and do yoga.
I do this exercise once a week, and it has allowed me to completely transform the way I use the mirror. Before discovering the Mirror Exercise, I used the mirror to concentrate on all the parts of myself that I wanted to change. Now, I feel empowered when I make a point to stand in front of the mirror and compliment myself. It’s an amazing thing to transform the use of an object from causing self-hate to producing self-love. Because, in the end, my body allows me to do so many amazing things and those amazing things are what I need to be concentrating on and appreciating every time I look at my reflection.
Christina Verzijl has implemented Body Project 4 High Schools in Texas. She hopes that this positive body image program will help girls to learn to love themselves and their bodies one group at a time!
In high school, there can be a decent amount of pressure to attend parties and sometimes drink or do drugs. Yes, you can certainly say no to attending the party and avoid the whole thing; however, in some cases you then become the topic of conversation, not at the party, but on Monday at school. That’s no fun. Not to mention that you want to hang out with your friends and be social, but don’t want to feel the pressure from others. Be proactive! I suggest coming up with a shortlist of responses that you can use when faced with peer pressure, so you aren’t ostracized for doing the right thing. Here, I started the list for you with a few and when stated confidently and honestly, will be respected by your peers. Trust me!
(These are related to the example of drinking at a party, but can also be applied to when being pressured to do drugs as well.)
- I can’t drink, I’m on medication/antibiotics.
- I can’t drink, I’m the designated driver.
- I can’t drink, I have practice in the morning (or a big game.)
- I can’t drink, I have to work in the morning and really need the money.
What would you add to the list?
I designed this self-esteem scale as a quick reference tool for the teen girls I work with. It’s notso much a scale as it is a starting point for building healthy self-esteem. It allows for honest reflection on where you see your self-esteem presently and where you would like it to be. Remember, self-esteem is not “fixed” meaning… it can change and grow with time.
1–3: Your self-esteem is on the lower end. You’re more concerned with how others view you or define you. You basically see yourself through the eyes of others. You don’t trust in your own decisions. You tend to go along with the crowd, whether you want to or not. You don’t rock the boat and aren’t sure how to stand up for yourself in tough situations. You don’t like to make others angry and will avoid confrontation at all costs. You aren’t sure if you can trust your friends 100%. You may have felt bullied at some point in life and still feel negative effects from it.
4-6: You have moderate self-esteem. You look to others for guidance when making decisions. You trust in what others say a bit more than trusting in yourself. You sometimes hold back how you feel because you’re concerned about your friends passing judgment. You can be a people pleaser. You feel you can comfortably trust your friends 75-80% of the time with most information without them using it against you.
7–8: You have relatively strong self-esteem. You have a strong sense of self and you listen to yourself over the opinions of others. You aren’t easily swayed into uncomfortable situations and rarely feel peer pressured. You are unique and independent, and you can comfortably stand up for what is right without worrying about the consequences. You have a strong group of friends that you trust 80% to 100% of the time.
9-10: You have high self-esteem. You are comfortable in most situations at school and with friends. You are comfortable with all aspects of yourself. You’re accepting of your friends and the way they are. You do not fall victim to peer pressuring or bullying and don’t allow it to occur around you either. You do not feel the need to judge or gossip about others. You are a trustworthy friend.
Questions for Reflection
1) Where do you see yourself on the scale of self-esteem and why?
2) What external factors (looks, grades, boyfriends, etc.) do you depend on to “raise” your self-esteem?
3) Can any of these factors truly help your long-term self-esteem? Explain.