Feeling down about your body? This study says try compassion instead of comparison.

As a mom of two daughters, I know that body comparings start early.

My husband and I have tried really hard to instill a healthy body image into most children. We focus on health and what our bodies can do instead of what they look like. We try not to belittle our own physical appearance and strive to be an example of loving the bodies we’re in.

But society’s body-shaming messages still filter through. I’ve had to stop my daughters when they start comparing themselves to others. And admittedly, even I have a hard time not internally grumbling about Jillian Michaels’ six-pack when I’m doing one of her workouts.

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/ Getty Images.

A new survey says that we can transform our own body image by transforming the style we think.

Researchers at University of Waterloo discover that girls can improve their body image and create less disordered eating habits by changing their mindset from competitiveness to compassion.

According to the study’s press release, which was published in the journal Body Image, “The study found that comparison-focused women who deliberately exercise compassion towards the females they compare themselves to experience less body discontent, a lower motivation to diet, and a reduced tendency to compare their appearance to those around them.”

Photo by Chris Hondros/ Getty Images.

“Making comparisons with one another arrives naturally to us, and in modern society, that is especially common when it comes to women and their bodies, ” said Kiruthiha Vimalakanthan, a co-author of such studies. But those comparisons tend to attain us feel badly about ourselves.

Instead of comparison and competitor, we should focus on compassion and connection.

Participants in such studies, which involved 120 females of diverse ethnicities, were split into three groups and asked to engage in self-help strategies to combat negative body comparisons. One group was coached to use a “competitive” mindset, thinking of ways the latter are superior to the target of their comparison. One used a “caregiving” mindset to develop compassion and kindness toward the target. And the third employed a “distraction” method to try to remove comparative thoughts wholly.

Of the three methods, the compassion approach proved the best available at helping women reduce negative body comparisons. According to the release, “This study is the first to demonstrate that trying to cultivate compassion for others — by wishing them to be happy and free from suffering — may, in turn, benefit one’s own body image and eating attitudes.”

We fare best when we feel less threatened and more connected to our fellow humans. So instead of begrudging Jillian Michaels and her perfectly toned abs, perhaps I’ll try sharing compassion for our shared experience of tipping over while putting on our undies. It’s a start.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com


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