I stand in front of my mirror and I’m not happy with what I see. Pregnancy changed my body and sometimes I don’t even recognize myself.
I know if I work hard I can get it back, or get close to having my pre-pregnancy body back but I also work from home and have 2 small kids and it wears me out. I am well aware you can think this is an excuse because when you truly want something you make it happen. So I guess at some level, getting back in shape it’s not my priority now but feeling this way is also not right.
I have made some peace with my body but I would lie if I told you that I don’t care about how I look, because I do. I often wonder why I care so much… but when I think about my life I realize I have always cared – I remember being very young and not being happy with my body.
I know some of it came from being raised by 2 very fit and athletic parents and the other part came by the pressure society puts on women. But you see, as I reflect on my feelings about my body, my biggest concern is actually my daughters.
Society has a big influence on what we should look like and dress like and it’s only growing more with all these kids having access to social media from a young age. It has taken me many years to realize the only one that should dictate how you feel about your body is yourself. And even then, I’m not sure I have mastered this.
I don’t want my daughters to grow up feeling ashamed of their bodies, thinking they’re fat, not loving to exercise or feeling uncomfortable in their bodies. This is why I am making a conscious effort to raise them in a way that is not centered about body image and that promotes loving feeling towards themselves.I don’t want my daughters to define themselves as fat or skinny, I want them to be healthy and love exercise because it’s good for their health and not because it’s the way to go down a size in pants.
Our society will pressure our little girls as they grow older, whether we want to or not because the pressure to have a perfect body is very strong. It is now that they’re young that we can set up a good foundation so they feel confident about themselves and so they love every aspect of themselves.
Check out my TV segment on this very important topic by clicking here or view it on Facebook below:
How To Encourage A Positive Body Image In a World That Pressures Our Daughters to Be Perfect
There is not one right way to parent and above all, you should listen to your kid, you should listen to your instincts and make sure you support your kids in whichever way it’s best for them.
But I’m hoping some of the tips will help you find ways to encourage a positive body image in your daughters:
Never say in front of your kids that you feel fat, that you wish something looked better on you or that you don’t like how something looks on you
Unfortunately I heard too many comments like this in my life. I heard really fit people complaining that they’re fat and it only made me wonder, if they’re fat, what does that make me? I also thought I was fat when in reality I wasn’t…and of course now that I am overweight it just makes me feel worse.
If your kids hear you complaining about your looks they will internalize this and eventually they might start doing the same. If you have negative feelings towards your body, talk about them with someone you trust, just don’t complain to your kids about your body. This means avoid comments like: “this makes me look fat, I hate how this shirt looks on me, my hips are so wide – I hate it”, etc.
This doesn’t just apply to fat/skinny body image but also to tall/short, blonde/brunette, and all the other ways we compare ourselves to others.
Encourage them to feel beautiful in any shape or form. Do this by thanking them when they say you look pretty, make positive comments about your own body or simple avoid all negative comments, use positive words when commenting about any of their body parts.
If your children come back from school making negative comments about their body image ask them why they feel this way? Listen more than you talk.
Our kids are little sponges watching what we do and if we avoid being negative about our own image they will have a better start in life. They will learn to love everyone and love themselves just the way they are.
Never talk about anyone else’s appearance in front of your kids – not to say that they’re fat nor that they’re skinny
Your kids don’t need to hear any comments about anyone else’s body, it doesn’t matter what type of comment it is. You never know how I will kid will interpret something and if you make comments they will probably internalize them. Once they internalize this will become a part of them and a part of how they judge others and themselves.
So, next time instead on focusing about someone’s physical features, focus on what makes them unique, special and why you like them.
A person is more than their looks, focus on pointing that out.
Encourage exercise through play
Exercise is supposed to be fun and not just a means to an end (being fit). When you do exercise only to look better it is easy to lose motivation, to get bored and to give up.
In order to instill the love of exercise with your kids, go outside every day, run and chase each other or race each other for fun. Let them test their bodies’ limit by climbing, squatting, pulling themselves up and just by being active.
Kids naturally love being outdoors and staying active, so nurture that and motive them to stay active by providing them scenarios and the space to explore with their bodies. Playgrounds are a great way to encourage staying active through play, but so is a walk in the woods or at a beach, riding a bicycle or roller blades… Find ways your kids love to stay active.
When we go out for walks, my daughters run almost the entire time, because it’s fun for them. When was the last time you did that? Most of us somehow lose the love of exercise as we get older because it becomes a chore. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to our kids.
When you make it fun, they will love it.
Support their clothing choices and don’t ever tell them something doesn’t look good nor give them way too many compliments on their looks
Beauty should be defined by their own standards and not by yours or anyone else’s. Don’t tell them what’s beautiful and what’s not because beauty is a subjective thing. Let them discover what beauty means for them.
There’s nothing wrong in telling your kid they’re beautiful but when that’s the main focus it can become problematic since they might think their beauty is tied to how they look and this can cause body image issues as they grow older. Beauty goes beyond your body and all bodies are beautiful in their own way.
Tell them they’re beautiful without just focusing on that. Tell them their smart, creative, compliment them in their skills. For example, instead of saying, “this dress makes you pretty”, you can say things like “Look at all those colors on this dress you chose”.
If your kids decide to wear an outfit that doesn’t match at all, let them do it and don’t even point that out. Who cares if they don’t match? They like it and that’s all that matters.
Give them healthy meals so they learn to love vegetables and nutritious foods but also let them have treats
When foods are forbidden your kids will probably just want them more – this is what happened to me. Encourage your kids to listen to their bodies when it comes to food and never force them to eat when they’re not hungry. This means don’t tell them they can’t leave the table unless they’re done with their meal or that they can’t have dessert if they don’t eat dinner.
This also doesn’t mean they should have dessert for dinner. Encourage them to eat until their bodies tell them they’re full and let them they can have dessert later. Don’t make it a condition, just something that will happen at a certain time.
Keep healthy snacks in our house to encourage healthy eating habits. We set up a snack drawer that my kids have access to, a fruit basket and also bins in the fridge with healthy organic snacks they can grab whenever they want to.
By creating a positive environment and letting your kids have a wide range of healthy lifestyle and eatings habits you will raise confident little kids. Ones that can make important decisions in regards to their body, their own image, ones that learn to love themselves, ones that don’t judge others based on their looks and ones that learn to make better choices when it comes to eating.
My own body image insecurities started when I was young and looking back maybe I would feel different today about myself if I had learned that any shape and size is okay, if I hadn’t heard people around me saying they felt fat when in reality they were in great shape, if I had learned how to eat sweets by listening to my body instead of eating as much as I could when I was allowed, if I had learned to love exercise because it’s fun…
Now I need to ask you for a favor, join me in raising a generation where fat and skinny doesn’t define who we are, where listening to your body when it comes to eating comes naturally, where exercise is for fun and where we love and feel comfortable with our own bodies.
How we feel about ourselves starts with what see our parents do, what we learn in our homes, what we learn as kids and how our parents see us. We have the power to raise a different generation – one that loves themselves and is respectful of each other. We have the power to give our kids a better life. Will you do it? It start with YOU!