Last updated on Mar 21st, 2016 at 09:52 pm

Kim Kardashian’s nude Instagram post has reignited the debate around women’s bodies and their ‘right’ to display them …

Whether you think that those who ‘have it’ should flaunt it, or that women should stop using their bodies for attention, or you’re just left wondering how Kim ever finds jeans that fit, the fact that we think we get to have any opinion at all about another woman’s body is the real issue here.

  • Who gave us the right to criticise her?
  • Who gave anyone the right to criticise you?
  • Why can’t we compliment instead of criticise?
  • Why can’t our daughters just believe us when we tell them they are beautiful?
  • Why can’t I take my husband seriously when he says he loves my body?

We don’t understand the meaning of beautiful

When we were little girls, we were told that long hair and pink dresses made us pretty. We listened when the most beautiful women in our lives – our mothers – criticise their own exquisite figures.

[tweetthis]We learned to define beauty by what we could see.[/tweetthis]

We learned that the opposite of beautiful was ugly and unacceptable. And we began to make our own comparisons.

When we were teenagers trying to figure out life beyond the braces, acne and hormones, we found out about hate. The kind of hatred and venom that is built on jealousy and poor self-esteem. And we unleashed it on one another. BBFs became sworn enemies in a contest to win the attention of some pimply boy. Life-long feuds were started with insincere flattery and cutting remarks.

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BBFs became sworn enemies in a contest to win the attention of some pimply boy

“Friends” would compliment our awkward efforts to be ‘cool’ and tear us down behind our backs. And we did the same to others. And we did the same to ourselves.

In a time when we so desperately needed love and acceptance for WHO we were, and our innate potential, we were constantly reminded of our external ‘flaws’. Media and friends and mirrors showed us all the ways we didn’t fit into what the world thought we should look like.

None of us is innocent

None of us can say that we have never looked at another woman’s body, or outfit, or hairstyle and thought “Good grief, no one wants to see that! What were you thinking?!”

None of us can say that we haven’t browsed through magazines desperately wishing we could Photoshop our bodies. Not HUGE changes … just longer legs, thinner thighs, a flatter stomach, fewer lines and wrinkles, and perhaps a cleavage that didn’t need the help of chicken fillets and a Wonderbra to make an appearance.

But who are we really trying to impress?

If magazines and social media have taught us anything, it’s that you’re never going to look ‘perfect’ no matter how hard you try. You can be Kim Kardashian, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Helen Mirren, Nicky Minaj, or Duchess Kate.

Someone, somewhere is always going to think they have the right to criticise how you look

Someone, somewhere is always going to think they have the right to criticise how you look.

  • They’re going to think they have the right to tell you how you should have been born.
  • They’re going to think they have the right to tell you how you should dress.
  • They’re going to think they have the right to judge you as a person based on your jeans/genes.
  • And they’re going to think that their opinion actually means something.

But it’s high time women take back their power, and redefine the meaning of beauty

[tweetthis]Beauty should have as much to do with a woman’s body as ostriches have to do with flying.[/tweetthis]
  • There’s no beauty in a flat stomach. There’s beauty in using the talents you have and your time and energy to provide for your family.
  • There’s no beauty in skinny legs. There’s beauty in walking on the beach with your loved ones and watching the sun set.
  • There’s no beauty in a wrinkle-free face. There’s beauty in memories and laughter and living a life of love.

So instead of criticising, can we compliment?

Can we teach our children to see the beauty inside each other instead of on the outside?

Can we learn to love giving and receiving compliments without thinking that there’s some ulterior motive behind them?

Can we just be the women we were created to be before “they” got in the way?

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Why not make this a week of compliments?

  • Every time you look in the mirror, find something that you love about yourself.
  • Every time you take a break, find something that you love about your life.
  • Every time you see a loved one, identify something that makes them special.
  • Compliment a co-worker (on something other than the physical).
  • Compliment your partner (on something other than the physical).

Build a habit of complimenting rather than criticising, and learn to see the real beauty in life.