I listened carefully until she was silent. Then I spoke, “Do you realize that you just talked for 5 minutes about what was important about your friend and never once mentioned a physical attribute of his body?”

So I will challenge you as I challenged her. Think about it. Aren’t the inner qualities of a person, rather than the shape or size of their body, so much more important? Aren’t shared values ​​or different attitudes what ultimately makes an attraction work or breaks a relationship? Aren’t the behaviors, choices, decisions, actions and personality of the person what makes them distinctive?

Think about it. What qualities do you have that you would like others to notice and appreciate in you? Just as you spend time exercising your body, perhaps you should also spend time exercising those aspects, talents, and endowments that make up your whole person. I think you will find that improved self-image is a surprising result.

Another way to put this into practice is to stop complimenting others on their looks and start complimenting them on one or more of the attributes to like or admire about them. Likewise, don’t criticize someone’s appearance or weight. Train yourself to take someone seriously for what they say rather than how they look.

Finally, if you or someone you know has body image issues or an eating disorder, seek help. Body image issues and eating disorders can and are successfully treated all the time. It may not be easy, but with the right help, many people do recover.

For more helpful information, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.