Until I had a daughter, I never truly understood the importance of using positive self talk. I am ashamed to say I didn’t pay as close attention to it with my son as I do my daughter. (I recognize it’s a big misconception to only think that body image affects women and our daughters — boys and men are affected as well.)
With so many magazines and ads putting on the pressure to not have fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, beauty marks, freckles, extra skin, extra fat, etc., how are we to think anything of ourselves except that we don’t match up to those in the magazine?
As a mom, I think about what I can do to show that our bodies — all our bodies — are beautiful, and that starts with us. I often talk down about myself; I use the fact that I’m a woman as an excuse, when really, that means nothing. I’m just another individual who thinks I need to have less of this and more of that, be thinner here and fuller in this area. But truthfully, the numbers that are important are found in my blood, nowhere else.
So, what are some things we can do?
First off, consider the old saying: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all — and apply that to your own image. Unless you are about to compliment yourself, chose silence. Although overlooked, silence is a golden attribute. The only way for our babes to begin talking down to themselves is if they hear that conversation first. So, why let them?
My son’s height is often pointed out, and when Evan’s height works to his advantage, we always give positive feedback for what his body can do. Not just because of his height, but also because he is strong and healthy. He thinks it’s cool and exciting because of all the things he’ll be able to do when he’s “big and strong like daddy.”
Jake and I found that taking time to find books with characters to whom a child might relate can help that child understand through the power of a character and story to be beneficial. We have been reading The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). By allowing a child to relate to a character, it lessens the feeling of seclusion and gives the child a feeling like, hey, I can do that, too.
Body image shouldn’t be a shameful topic. In fact, setting grounds for a positive experience when reflecting on one’s old image can help others catch on. Be the example. And remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say (about yourself or others) don’t say anything at all.
How do you model body positivity with your kids? —Jennifer