She Looks Great!
This exercise in accepting others' bodyshapes will have a knock-on effect in self-acceptance for you.
What you do:
Next time you are out and about, I want you to focus on women who you would never normally identify as attractive. You are going to look at them and say to yourself:
She looks great
Make sure you say it about ordinary women. Women who you would never normally say that about. Not "She's big but really pretty". Focus on women who are your size or bigger.
There will be some women that you just cannot bring yourself to say She Looks Great about. That is fine - nobody is demanding that you accept everyone's size. See below for more if you are struggling.
Why do this?
In this exercise you are changing the meaning of the word great. I bet that at the moment you only use it for people with bodyshapes that culture has dictated you must see as attractive...or when someone without a conventionally attractive body is dressed up for some reason.
In this she looks great exercise, you are changing it meaning to I accept her. You have trained Cavebrain to think that acceptability hinges on looking great, so my thinking is that this is less of an ask than you saying to yourself Her body is acceptable (which is a bit sad, don't you think? Just like someone trying to persuade you to date someone because they have a nice personality).
The idea is that after a time (shorter than you might think), Cavebrain takes over the She looks great observations, and you will start thinking this naturally and effortlessly - not about every woman you pass in the street, but some. That is a huge success!
OPTIONAL: If you prefer, say:
Cavebrain, she looks great!
What To Do On This Date
Start doing the above exercise, but don't forget to carry on with either your Instagram experiment or your Body Confidence Board from date #2
What If I Date Women? It's A Bit More Complicated For Me
What If This Is A Struggle?
Not everyone finds it easy to be positive about body shapes they have easily criticised for years. This is what I say when clients struggle getting started with this exercise:
This is not about some wishy washy ‘let their inner beauty shine’ mantra. We are not trying to persuade ourselves of beauty we do not see. Instead, understand that this is a massive PR campaign with one target: your Cavebrain. We are instructing it to be more accepting of bigger body shapes. She looks great is a translation of I accept her.
Try other phrases if you like, for example
It’s OK for her to look like that
She’s OK like that
Comments from Rumspringer Participants
Harriet says: I started doing this exercise last week . It did feel a bit artificial and forced at first, I must admit.
On the 3rd occasion, I saw one woman who was definitely overweight, but she was well put together with amazing long hair. I looked at her and had an immediate (not forced) reaction of "Wow! She looks really good!"
Yvette says: I love this one. It is really fun and a great way to fill in dead time. But also I like it because it is an exercise in kindness and compassion.
Rachel said: I got really into this and, like Harriet, started to see some of these bigger women as naturally looking great. I then practised standing in front of the mirror with my 5 year-old and saying 'Lookin' good!' I even wanted to tell someone in the street they looked great the other day!
Harriet says: I have now widened my perception of what acceptable is when it comes to other women's bodies. I no long er have to force the She looks great: although I do have to make an effort to think it still quite often, I have been really surprised at how often I just naturally think it. Basically, if an overweight woman looks groomed and feminine, I will think this automatically. Those times feel instinctive.
This exercise has been a really powerful gateway to me accepting and now loving my own body.
There have only been 2 women about whom I just could not hold the thought She looks great. One I was in a lift with and she had strong body odour. The other I thought it instinctively as I saw her down the street, but as she passed me I saw she was on her phone and very aggressively swearing at some unfortunate individual on the other end. "You arsehole, I just want some help!" she screamed.
All these observations tell me that there are other things apart from our body shape that can impact how we come across physically.
Revisit date #1 - Role Models - look through your new Instagram feed, work on your Body Confidence Board or get hold of one of the movies suggested.