3 Tips to Go Back-to-School with a Body-Positive Attitude (and Leave Your Comparison Game at Home!)

It’s back-to-school season and all of this hoopla can bring up a lot for anyone who struggles with body image issues or the comparison game. That holds true whether you are gearing up to go back-to-school yourself, you have children getting ready to start a new school year, or you are just a human being existing in our culture. The energy in the air can feel very similar to New Years, with high expectations for big changes and total transformations.

This year, everything is going to be different. 

Pressure to go out and get a hot new first-day-of-school outfit or show up to work after your two-week vacation a few pounds lighter is high. So how can we avoid feeling like we need to measure up? Here are my three tips on getting through the fall season without falling into the comparison trap:

1. Surround yourself with peers who support your anti-dieting, no-body-shame, comparison-free way of life: The people we surround ourselves with can make or break so many of our personal goals, and moving away from body shame and comparison is no different. If your group of friends has a reputation of starting the new school year off by focusing on post-summer weight-loss goals or bragging about their lavish summer vacations in a way that definitely isn’t all-in-good-fun but rather feels like a competition, start thinking about how that affects you. Making new friends is hard, but if the people around you make your life feel empty, then having them as friends is actually going to be harder in the long run than seeking out individuals who support you and help you feel your best.

2. Don’t fall into the post-summer-body-transformation fantasy: Growing up, many of us dreamed about coming back to school after the long summer break looking completely different, shocking our bullies and being the envy of everyone around us. It’s a common fantasy, and one that is constantly encouraged through media representation (hello, Netflix’s newest “comedy”, Insatiable). But is chasing a revenge body really going to bring you lasting happiness and fulfillment? Probably not. Plus, the vast majority of dieters regain all of the weight they lost (and sometimes gain back even more!) on their diet. So we know that diets fail, that your body will eventually snap back to where it would rather be, and that being a smaller jean size doesn’t actually bring us any closer to authentic happiness. My advice? Steer clear of this trope altogether, and make it a point to challenge those around you who perpetuate this harmful narrative.

3. Make sure you’re absorbing as much anti-diet, mindfulness, and Health at Every Size messaging as possible: Having go-to HAES resources is essential for surviving through any kind of diet-culture experience, but moments like the new school year may mean it’s time to double-down on body-positive support. Have a book like Jes Baker’s Landwhale or Virgie Tovar’s just released You Have the Right to Remain Fat handy, tune-in to HAES informed podcasts like Christy Harrison’s Food Psych or Rebecca Scritchfield’s Body Kindness, and keep your social media feeds filled with body diversity and weight-inclusive accounts.

 

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the latest from yours truly–The Anti-Diet Plan signature mindfulness-based course is going online! We’ll be launching this fall exclusively to my email list subscribers and social media followers. Stay tuned for more exciting news on this new program–and don’t forget to sign-up for The Anti-Diet Plan FREE 30-day introductory course for a taste of program.