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Topic: Body - May 26 2024
Positive Body Talk 101

As women athletes, we’re often exposed to unrealistic beauty standards across social media that can impact our self-esteem as both athletes and women. We asked VIS Expert and Sport Psychologist, Dr. Ashley Zapata, and VIS Experts and Mental Performance Coaches, Justine Jones and Dr. Lauren Tashman, for tips on how to incorporate positive body talk into our lives to boost self-esteem and find confidence on and off the playing field.

By: Eden Horton

VIS Creator

& Ashley Zapata, PSYD

VIS Expert

& Lauren Tashman, CMPC

VIS Expert

& Justine Jones, MS

VIS Expert

Topic: Body

May 26 2024

According to the Dove Self-Esteem Project, low body confidence is the number one reason why girls quit sports at a young age. Social media can have a major impact on our self-esteem because it can be filled with toxic and unrealistic beauty advice – just ask the 1 in 2 girls who say so. In sports, social media can reinforce unattainable body ideals, forcing us into a cycle of comparison. 

At VOICEINSPORT, we see sport as a vehicle to build our confidence and empower us. By participating in sports, we not only develop physical skills but also cultivate a strong sense of self-worth. Through more open discussions surrounding body confidence, we can all work to make sports a place that builds our body confidence rather than breaking it. By speaking with VIS Experts Ashley Zapata, Lauren Tashman, and Justine Jones, we hope to break down the basics of body positivity and how we can incorporate its values into our daily lives. 

What Does “Body Positivity” Mean?

“Body positivity means celebrating and embracing diversity in women's body shapes, sizes, and abilities,” Jones says. “Different sports require different strengths, even positions within the same sport can vary on desired height, size, and skill!” She adds that “it involves rejecting societal standards and stereotypes that dictate and project a narrow definition of what women's bodies should look like and instead promotes acceptance, respect, and appreciation of women’s bodies engaged in ALL athletic pursuits.”

Tips for Inspiring Body Positivity

Navigate Comparison 

Whether it's comparing ourselves to others in terms of appearance, abilities, or achievements, comparison is a universal behavior. Jones tells us that an “awareness of this tendency to compare is a key component of not letting it become detrimental,” but it's important to recognize that it can also have negative consequences if not managed properly. 

Tashman emphasizes the importance of not getting caught up in comparison but instead focusing on appreciating our own strengths and abilities. “When we feel good in our body and good about our body (not just how we look but our physicality and thinking about how our body helps us perform), it can feed our self-efficacy and confidence,” she says. 

“Body positivity means celebrating and embracing diversity in women's body shapes, sizes and abilities. Different sports require different strengths, even positions within the same sport can vary in desired height, size, and skill!”

Justine Jones, VIS Expert and certified mental performance coach

Embrace Inclusivity

It’s important to recognize and celebrate the diversity of body types in women’s sports. Tashman suggests that we remember why we should strive for “creating safe spaces for people to feel like they belong regardless of their body type.” It’s all about fostering an environment where everyone can participate without fear of judgment. 

Mantras 

Positive affirmations are powerful tools for developing body positivity. “Mantras or affirmations are most impactful when created with intention and purpose in the voice of the athlete,” Zapata says. She recommends using “a quote or phrase that holds deep meaning and value.” We should create mantras that resonate personally with our values, but here are a few examples suggested by Zapata and Jones to kickstart the process.

  • "My body is strong and capable, and I trust its abilities."

  • "I am more than my appearance; my worth comes from my skills, determination, and character."

  • "I am grateful to my body and all that it has done to get me here." 

Positive Self Talk

Tashman tells us that positive self-talk is crucial for fostering body positivity, but it's important to avoid toxic positivity. “It’s not just about saying positive things,” she says, but instead it’s about finding “the self-talk that is helpful for us to think and act in ways that help us to have strong well-being and importance.” 

So, how do we develop helpful self-talk? It starts with being mindful of our inner dialogue and recognizing when it becomes harmful. Instead of ignoring our struggles, we can acknowledge them with compassion. Then, we can reframe our thoughts to promote resilience and self-compassion.

According to Zapata, body positivity “involves reframing societal beauty standards and challenging harmful stereotypes that may undermine women's confidence and self-worth in sports.” Through open discussions and embracing inclusivity, we can work together to use sports as a method to build body confidence rather than break it down.

Take Action

Be sure to read other VIS articles about body image on the VOICEINSPORT platform, including 3 Tips from a Pro on Body Image, and 4 Ways to Help Boost Your Body Image.