2017 was a monumental and widely publicized year for feminism with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Making this year’s International Women’s Day theme that much more fitting: #PressforProgress. This year’s theme is aimed at striving for gender parity within society. Although gender parity is a very important aspect of equality and women’s rights, it’s only one aspect. There are many areas we can Press for Progress, within society as a whole and within our personal lives.
International Women’s Day should mark the beginning of a year full of pushing for progress for yourself and women everywhere. I challenge you to spend the year following Women’s Day learning to love yourself and your body. Feminism, by definition, is an act of rebellion. It’s the act of rebelling against current societal and patriarchal norms for gender equality. What’s more rebellious than going against everything society tells us about our bodies, and loving who we are?
I know firsthand how disheartening looking at any form of media can be to your self-esteem. There are articles and ads everywhere about how to get ready for bikini season, how to make yourself as thin as possible, and how being anything other than in impeccable shape is viewed, each alongside images of scantily clad, unrealistically super fit, modelesque women. On top of it all, cosmetic, supplement, and fitness companies profit from our feelings of poor self-worth. It is in their best interest for us to feel poorly about ourselves. This deserves to change.
Here are 4 rebellious acts you can do to Push for Progress and learn to love yourself this Women’s Day:
1. Change how you talk about yourself
As women, we have a terrible habit of talking poorly about ourselves and our bodies. We are our own worst critics and we would never say the things we say about ourselves to our friends. They would probably punch us for it. To truly change how we see ourselves, a great first step is to cut out all that negative self-talk. It’s damaging and not beneficial to our self-esteem. Instead, replace those negative comments with things you are proud of doing or skills you possess.
2. Unfollow social media accounts that damage your self-confidence
Social media has become a huge part of our lives. We passively consume so much information and images throughout the day because of the amount of time we spend on social media. Because of this, we’re bound to come across accounts or posts that aren’t beneficial to our self-esteem. Whether it be a celebrity that is always posting about the latest diet to lose those extra 5lbs or an account that shames people for being anything other than perfect, you don’t need that in your life. Cut that garbage out of your life and don’t look back.
3. Embrace self-care
In the last year, there has been a huge boom for self-care and it’s amazing. Nothing screams love for ourselves and rebellion like providing ourselves with the self-care we deserve. Carve out time in your schedule to unwind and relax by reading, having a bath, knitting, preparing your favourite meal, or ensuring you get enough sleep. Self-care is individualized and non-prescriptive and should include something that’s important to you. Self-care should be a regular part of your lifestyle to help you feel grounded and to realize all you’ve accomplished in a day is worth celebrating.
4. Be proud of your body
Our bodies are capable of so many amazing things. It allows us to move the way we want, tells us what it needs, allows us to feel and explore within ourselves, to learn, and our bodies can even bear children. That’s amazing stuff. How we treat our bodies should be a reflection and celebration of all it’s capable of, not punishment for everything it’s been through. Don’t shame your body for showing its age or the scars it bears. We have such unrealistic expectations of how bodies should look and we will go to great lengths to keep it looking young, scar free, flat, toned, and tanned. Why not just be proud of your body for getting you this far?
As International Women’s Day is here, I challenge us all to be aware and cognizant of how we can make progress. And I challenge you to think differently about yourself and what your body is capable of. Take part in the rebellion and flex those feminism muscles with me. Happy International Women’s Day. #PressforProgress
Jessica Saloman, MAN, RD
Sports Dietitian with ESN and Athlete's Care Yonge and Eglinton and Liberty Village
Jessica has a unique interest in women’s health, specifically managing hormonal changes, treating PCOS, gut health, and the female athlete triad. She works alongside women to reach their individualized goals in realistic and manageable ways.