NOTE: To anyone late to the game or falling behind, feel free to get creative – add things to the list, take things off, start day one today and just span out into September, October, whatever… just don’t sit back and miss out!
What This Is & Why It’s Happening
In response to the increasingly ridiculous self-esteem harming “issues” that the media has been creating and promoting as of late, with special attention being paid to Gold’s Gym decision to make July “Cankles Awareness Month,” I have decided to declare August “Self-Esteem Awareness Month.” This August will be a month of reflection, enlightenment, and action if you choose to take on my challenge and improve the way you relate to your body & your community through fun & easy daily activities.
This is really the heart & soul of this project – a suggestion of an activity or a goal for each day of August. Participants can engage in and blog about as many or as few of these activites as they desire – anyone who participates will be linked to on this page, below the calendar. I’ve decided to post it now, unfinished, so that you can see what I have so far & make some suggestions in the comments or via email@example.com!
Change Your Mindset
August 1st – Lets start this all of with a simple exercise that has been suggested on this blog before; write a list of at least five things about yourself that you love and tuck that list away somewhere for the next time you’re feeling down. I tend to make a new list/add to an old one every week or so – its a really quick & easy self-esteem boost.
August 2nd – Grab a huge pile of pictures of yourself (ones you love, ones you hate, and the ones in between), sit down, and spend however long you have to coming up with at least one positive thing about the way you look in each picture. Scrapbook them if you want to (its a nice thing to look back to), do it out loud with a friend, or just complete this exercise in your head – the point is to start focusing on the positive parts of the picture, and yourself, instead of the negative things!
August 3rd – Time to start thinking a little bigger. Set aside some time & get reading something positive that’s going to make you feel good about the way you look! I’ll have some reading recommendations up that day if you’re stuck!
August 4th – It’s time to turn the positivity you’ve been building up for the last few days say something positive to everyone you interact with – boost their self esteem!
August 5th – Complimenting others is easy, complimenting yourself is the tricky thing (that is, until you’ve had some practice!) Lets play a little game to make it easier: make up a silly rule (like “every time I pass a mirror today I have to think one good thing about my body” or “every hour I have to think about one thing I love about myself”) and stick to it for the whole day.
August 6th - This one gets even a little harder… resolve to say nothing negative at all for a whole day (or a week, or a month… how long can you go?) about anyone else’s appearance or your own appearance. If you think a negative thought about the way someone looks, counter it immediately with a positive one. This will help you to train yourself to better judge people on their actions and words, rather than theirappearance.
August 7th – Now that we’re feeling good & positive lets back those feelings up with some knowledge! Think about one health-related question you’ve always wondered about and do some fact finding. For instance: what BMI is/isn’t good for, what a “healthy weight” really entails, etc. I’ll be posting some excellent resources for research on August 6th!
August 8th – Take a day off [from doing these activities] to process the first seven days of your journey. Write about your experience, whatever it may be, and continue doing health research if you do desire.
August 9th – Lets help each other out in our fact-finding missions. If you have any questions you can’t answer/don’t want to research I’ll have a big open post this day where we can ask & answer questions as a community.
August 10th -Let’s do some heavy lifting today; set aside some time and write about your relationship with your body & the life experiences that have come to shape that relationship (like I did here.) Push yourself to really be honest and think about the cause & effect of things – sometimes knowing why you feel bad is all you need to stop feeling bad (and sometimes its just a fantastic first step!)
August 11th – Now that you have a more positive mindset & some good, reliable knowledge under your belt its time to set some goals. Think about the ways in which you can take concrete steps to feel better about your body and write them down as achievable goals. For instance, maybe you want to be able to run a mile without feeling winded or cut down on junk-food so that your body can function at a better level. Pick one goal and write it down, along with some steps you can make to achieve those goals. Plan it as specifically or as vaguely as you want, there’s just one catch: your goals have to be based on function, not appearance because the point is feeling better about our bodies without making judgments about how they look!
August 12th – Document your new body-positive mindset through art – write a poem, make a collage, body-map, paint, draw, doodle, write a song… I don’t care what you do so long as you do it!
Change Your Actions
August 13th – Take out that plan you made on the 11th; reflect on it, make sure your steps are all achievable and you’re still comfortable with the goal, and then get going on making that goal a reality!
August 14th – Wear an article of clothing that you’ve always wanted to wear, but haven’t for whatever reason; maybe its not “slimming” or it doesn’t meld with your usual look… but who cares? Just for today, put it on and rock out! (Take a picture & send it in too, if you’re so inclined!)
August 15th – Time to get a little braver. You know that list of things that you’re planning to do once you’ve lost weight/ your skin has cleared up/you’re dressing better/whatever? Write it down. Now, walk away for a few minutes if you have to, clear your mind, and then come back to that list… pick at least one thing the stop hesitating & DO IT! (If you can’t drop everything and get it done today, make a plan to get it done by the end of August)
August 16th – Time to take another day off from the action to process your journey thus far. Write about your experience, whatever it may be, and continue working towards your goals.
August 17th – Being healthy is important, so take some time today to improve your health through a commitment to movement. Spend some time evaluating your schedule today & thinking about the things you enjoy. Do you like to kayak? Dance? Play soccer? Ultimate Frisbee? Rock climb? Roller-blade? Run? Hula-hoop? How can you work some fun & pressure-free exercise into your daily life? Figure it out at then resolve to give it a shot - you pick how often, what activities, and so on based on what feels good to you!
August 18th - Keeping with our physical health focus for a little while longer, learn how to cook something new today! Pick a recipe that is both health-conscious and delicious (not “diet food” but, rather, something that contains ingredients that give you vitamins & energy – I’ll be sure to get some recommendations together to get you started) and whip up a meal for yourself or for your family/friends as well!
August 19th – Go on an adventure! Call up some friends (or explore by yourself) and take off for a walking tour of a place that you’ve never been or haven’t really taken the time to notice before. There are really no limits on this one – the point is simply to have a good time & a good walk.
August 20th – Think of one habit that you have (biting your nails, putting yourself down, procrastination, etc.) and spend a day actively trying to avoid engaging in that habit. Keep the focus on the action – why you don’t like the action, how to stop the action, how you feel abstaining from the action – rather than the results of that action. This is a good exercise because it helps to separate our actions from our selves which is an important tool for creating a mindset where living healthily is more important that appearing “healthy” (or thin, which is what most of us associate with thin.)
August 21st – This has been a lot of work so far, so make today a day to celebrate YOU! Indulge yourself with the foods, activities, people, etc. that you love today and simply focus on doing things that make you happy without feeling guilt because you deserve it! How does it feel to celebrate you for a whole day? How can you maintain the feeling in your everyday life (if you want to, that is)?
August 22nd – Choose a product that you use regularly to alter your appearance (lipstick, hair product, razor, diet pills… whatever) and try going without it for the next week (or however long you feel comfortable) without using that product. During that week pay attention to how you feel without the product, and why you feel that way. This is a good way to really understand how the beauty products we use daily impact our self esteem.
Change Your World!
August 23rd - In the morning, choose a person that you know you will see that day and resolve to brighten their day in some way – big or small. Observe how doing this makes you feel about yourself. Repeat, if you have the time & desire.
August 24th – Try the Strange(rs) No More challenge that I started on this blog almost a year ago: Think of someone you don’t like; someone who makes you nervous, uncomfortable; someone who is just so different from you that there’s no way you’ll ever get along; someone who is weird; someone who challenges your beliefs; someone who bullied you; someone you’ve never met. Now, talk to them. Invite them for coffee. Go for a walk. Get to know them. This assignment is about knocking down walls, about wrapping our hearts around someone we never would have tried to meet normally. About confronting our prejudices head on with real, human interaction. It’s about giving ourselves over to love, for everyone, so that others might try the same.
August 25th – Do your best to leave every person/situation you encounter today just a little bit better than they/it was when you arrived!
August 26th – Make a statement – get some post it notes, poster paper, printer paper… whatever you have handy and write something positive, something encouraging on it. Repeat. Now, plaster the world around you with positivity (and don’t forget to take pictures for your blog!)
August 27th - Write a letter to a company, like Gold’s Gym, that manipulates people’s insecurities to make money. Let them know how their marketing techniques are harming real people – even better, tell them how their techniques have personally hurt you and ask them to take some positive steps to change their ways. It may not be likely that one letter will inspire a major change but if enough of us write who knows what one letter might make a difference!
August 28th – Give the most valuable gift you can: your time. Choose an organization that means something to you and donate some time (as much time as you want to) to help them out – realize the impact that you can make with nothing more than your commitment and presence.
August 29th – Calculate the amount of money you haven’t spent this week because you’ve abstained from using one beauty supply (starting the 22nd), find a cause and donate that money or even more (if you are in a position where you can financially manage it.) Which action makes you feel better about yourself as a person – using the product(s) or donating the money to a worthy cause? You may not stop using the product(s) in question after this exercise, that doesn’t matter, what’s important is your understanding of the relationship between self esteem and your daily beauty rituals/acts of kindness.
August 30th -Time is almost up for this challenge, so what better time to reflect? Write a reflection about what you’ve learned (if anything) this month, but don’t stop there: share that reflection with whoever you (comfortably) can. E-mail it to people you care about, post it on a community, read it at an open mic night… just get out there and use your story to inspire others to work towards better loving themselves. (Bonus: Repeat August 1st’s activity, if you’re so inclined, to see how your list has, hopefully, grown!)
August 31st - Be inspired, don’t let the change die here. Pick a project that you’re passionate about and use what you’ve learned about yourself in the last month to inspire you to bring that project into fruition. I don’t care what you do (start an etsy store, sign up for Relay for Life, volunteer at an animal shelter, start going to therapy, earn a new degree, write a book…) just pick something you’ve always wanted to do and start changing your world! (Keep us posted as to how you’re doing it, if you so desire!)
Candice @ Bookish Penguin
Diary of a Fat Teenager – My name is Lizzie, and I am a sophomore in college (majoring in Nursing!). I write on my blog – Diary of a Fat Teenager- mostly about body size/ fat acceptance, but with a dash of feminism. I love taking photographs, drawing, and reading. I want to participate in this because even though my self esteem is miles from where it used to be, doing this project will help it get even better… and it just seems like fun.
Papu Morgado @ Curlveliciously Me
Travis (via E-mail)
TwitchandBitch - I am a recent university grad, and feminist activist, who loves retro, vintage, indie, feminism, social justice, good eats, and good espresso chats. And, I do all that while twitching. I affectionately call my blog twitchandbitch dot com, because I do a lot of both. Being a visibly “different” individual has made my self-esteem journey an interesting one. And in society’s terms, you can’t get much “different” than a chick that twitches. Come visit my blog!
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with a short bio and a link to the blog you’ll be participating with (make a new one, use your current blog, I don’t chare which) and you’ll be added to the master list! If you don’t have a blog you can still participate on your own & e-mail in any reflections etc. you want to share – I’ll just put them up here for you.
Blogs that have helped promote Self-Esteem Awareness Month:
Feministing, Big Fat Deal, Medicinal Marzipan, Manolo for the Big Girl
Thank you all!