You may think your girlfriend is beautiful, but if she has poor body image, she may not agree. According to the article, "Fostering a Positive Self-Image," on the Cleveland Clinic website, poor body image can affect the way someone interacts with the people and world around them. If your girlfriend thinks she is ugly, it can negatively affect her life and even your relationship. Helping your girlfriend improve her body image may also bring you closer together as a couple.
Understanding Root Causes
Your girlfriend's ideas about body image may be affected by things people have said to her or by unrealistic expectations that she has for herself. Sometimes women feel pressure to look like the women they see on television and magazine covers. Your girlfriend may want to talk to you about the things that influence her body image or she may not. Either way, it can be helpful for you to understand the many different influences that can affect your girlfriend's thoughts about herself.
Watch Your Language
When your girlfriend is struggling with negative and critical thoughts about her own appearance, she may be more highly sensitive to your criticism of others as well. Be careful to speak about peoples' appearances in positive, complimentary and accepting ways. Keeping your tone and language focused on what is admirable about appearances around your girlfriend will show that you are not an overly critical person and may help her turn her focus towards more positive aspects of body image.
Give Genuine Praise
Consistently compliment what you find beautiful and attractive about your girlfriend. The most powerful compliments offer specific feedback, according to "Psychology Today" advice columnist Hara Estroff Marano. "That color looks really wonderful on you" or "That hairstyle really shows off your beautiful face" will mean much more to her than a generic "You're beautiful." Genuine reminders of what you find lovely about her can have a positive affect on your girlfriend's thoughts about herself. The more you surround her with true encouragement, the more she will be able to start to see herself more positively.
Don't Always Focus on Looks
Remind your girlfriend that beauty is not all that is important to you. Point out positive things about her that are not just related to how she looks. Think about other strengths she has, such as her intelligence, humor or kindness. Make an effort to do fun things together that place little emphasis on looking nice, like playing a sport, taking a class or enjoying a movie night at home. Turning conversations and activities toward interesting and purposeful topics can help you both keep healthy perspectives and continue to grow as a couple.
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Based in North Carolina, Rebecca Chasteen has been writing about family and relationships since 2010. Her articles appeared weekly in "Modern Parent Online," an online parenting magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.