For all my parents out there!!
Every where kids see and hear messages of what they “should” look like based on how society defines “beauty”. The problem is that beauty is subjective. Everyone has a different opinion of what and who is beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is something beautiful in every single one of us. There is no right or wrong way to be beautiful, and we don’t celebrate that enough.
As a parent, your children soak in everything that you do and say. You are the first step in helping your children develop a positive body image. Here are a few ways you can begin to model a positive body image for them:
- Don’t normalize body-shaming. Be aware that your children hear you say, “My thighs look way too big so I’m going on a diet” and "This dress makes me look fat". If you are trying to lose weight or don’t like certain parts of your body, talk about it in a healthier way. What I mean by this is saying things more in a way that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Instead try, “I’m trying to lose weight so I can be more active, healthier, and run around with you guys!”
- Listen to your kids if they express that they don’t like parts of their body. Just being heard can go a long way. Take it a step further and sympathize that you have felt less than perfect at times and talk about ways you were able to get through it.
- Embrace the ways in which your body is different from everyone else’s. Try to teach your kids that everyone has a healthy weight that their body functions best at. Emphasize the fact that everyone’s body is different and it is not realistic for everyone’s body to look the same.
- Focus on a healthy lifestyle—teach your kids about how healthy foods fuel our body to function at its best.
- Make exercise fun—be creative with this and have your kids be a part of planning physical activity.
- Focus on your child’s strengths and talents. Encouraging your children to embrace their talents and strengths builds self-confidence.
- Focus on your child as a whole and not in parts. This means not making comments on your child’s size or shape. This can lead to self-consciousness and decreased self-esteem.
If you are having a hard time accepting your own body, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. When you work on your own body image, become comfortable in your own skin, and accept who you are, it is contagious. Your kids will notice and follow in your footsteps.