I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s so absolutely important that I can’t write enough about it. Kids today, both girls and boys, are surrounded with messages that tell them there is only one way to look and still be accepted, valued, and loved. Of course, this is simply not true. There are seven billion people on this planet, and every single one of them looks different. The tiny fraction of movie stars, models, and celebrities are not representative of the whole population, but advertisers want you to think they are so that you buy their products.
That’s why the diet industry makes billions of dollars a year peddling snake oil pills to desperate people; they give you a complex about not looking good enough so that you fork over your money to them for an easy “fix”. Yes, eating healthy and exercise is important, but it should be about nurturing your body and making it strong, not hating it and wanting to destroy it. In extreme cases, negative body image can even lead to having eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, steroid abuse, or even suicide.
I feel really strongly about this because I’ve always been overweight. I spent my teenage years (and preteen years) yo-yo dieting, skipping meals, and generally just hating myself because I wasn’t thin and pretty. It took a lot of years, and a lot of self acceptance (which turned into self love) before I could undo all that damage. Now, I’m working on exercising regularly and making healthier food choices, rather than just not eating. Fortunately, I never developed any serious form of eating disorder, but there are millions of kids who do.
That’s why it’s so important to teach kids to love their bodies! The way that we do this is by setting an example. If your daughter constantly hears you talking about how fat you are, what diet you’re on, and how much weight you want to lose, it won’t take her long to pick that up. For tips on nurturing positive body image in yourself and your children, read this post by Krissy at B-Inspired Mama. It’s very powerful and comes from someone who did survive an eating disorder:
-If you can’t say anything nice about yourself or others, don’t say anything at all. Especially when it comes to criticizing appearances.
-Throw away the scale. There is no need to weigh yourself every day. Only do it every few months at doctor check ups.
-Ditch the diet talk.
-Stop watching reality television, and stop bringing home gossip mags from the store. These are the worst perpetrators of unhealthy ideas which feed eating disorders, and encourage you to obsess over physical perfection.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Astrid