Has the topic of body image been raised in your home? Start the conversation if you haven’t already.
“You’re fat!” my 4-year-old screamed at her 9-year-old sister in the midst of a heated sisterly argument. My head immediately spun around like I was in the Exorcist. Excuse me? Let’s pump the breaks. My oldest was already headed to her room, so I brought the youngest to sit with me so we could have a nice talk. I didn’t yell, but she knew I meant business. After we talked, she went to her sister’s room to apologize and sent her in to chat with me next. With both girls, I had the same conversation.
I have always tried to create a positive body image among our girls since they were itty bitty. Every morning I greet them with, “good morning, beautiful!”. I have let them make their own choices about their clothing even though it is sometimes hard when they want to leave the house in completely mismatched outfits. I have encouraged them to create their own sense of style and comfort. Sometimes these things are not enough. Sometimes we are forced to have the difficult conversations. Did you know that one of the many mom superpowers is being able to have these talks with little to no preparation? I definitely wasn’t prepared to have such an in-depth talk on body image before bedtime with my girls, but when all was said and done, I think I nailed it.
When I first heard those words, “you’re fat,” come out of my daughter’s mouth, my mind flashed back to hearing those things when I was a child. In this moment, these are the things I needed my girls to know:
We Don’t Judge Ourselves by Our Body Types
No matter what our body type or shape is, that should not dictate how we feel about ourselves. Your height, weight, clothing size, or skin tone does not determine who you are as a person. What IS important is that you are healthy. That you are taking care of your body and mind and you are proud of your body.
We Are Not Allowed to Comment on Other People’s Bodies
Under no circumstances should you comment on anyone else’s body. You should not tell them they are fat, skinny, ugly or pretty. What you should tell them is how much you love their outfit or their new haircut. If you don’t have something positive to say, then it is better left unsaid. As women, we should be building each other up and fixing each other’s crowns.
Think of How you Feel at This Moment
How did that comment from your sister make you feel? The way you are feeling right now, remember that feeling. It’s not a good feeling, is it? You NEVER want to be responsible for making someone feel the way you are feeling right now. What you DO want to be responsible for is making someone feel good about themselves. You never know what another person is going through. A nice compliment from you could just make their day.
In such a digital age, it is so important to instill a positive body image in our children. This doesn’t just include girls. Now more than ever it is imperative that girls, boys, transgender children and gender-fluid children are all taught about body image. There have been so many examples in the media of hate and body shaming in recent years that these trends have almost become the new normal for our children. Kindness and tolerance start at home. I would love to hear what you are teaching your children about body image to prepare them to go out into the real world.