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Overcoming Body Image For The Sake Of Our Children

Welcome to the May 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self Love

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about their thoughts concerning self-love. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Babywearing.

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You know what scares me the most right now? Being a mother to a daughter. It’s not that I wouldn’t be scared raising a son, but due to all the double standards in our society today, I believe that young girls face a myriad of challenges that boys will rarely see on their radar.

Body Image, Children Follow Me on Pinterest We are a weight obsessed, perfection obsessed culture. I admit, I come down pretty hard on myself at times for not being “Hollywood” perfect. It is a lot easier for me to see my physical “flaws” than it is to see beauty. And while I attempt to shield Tiny from this, she is aware that sometimes mama just doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror.

This disgusts me! Tiny is 4. She should not even be aware of body image. While she has no issue with her own body, she definitely knows I have an issue with mine. So what does this mean for her in a few years?

I don’t diet. In fact, I have a hearty appetite. You won’t find me missing a meal. I eat real foods, lots of fat, and tons or fresh, local ingredients. I cooked nearly everything we eat in my own kitchen from scratch. Tiny has a very balanced view of food and its function. For this I am grateful. But it does not negate the fact that she will soon be bombarded with our culture’s expectation of the female form.

Most of my female friends are pretty blessed with a height/weight proportionate thing going on. Good for them. But in a way, this concerns me because it is not an accurate portrayal of the human population. So of course I worry that Tiny is getting some sort of warped view on who we choose to be friends with when it has nothing at all to do with size. (Crazy thoughts but hey – I think them!)

I really am at a loss about raising a daughter. Truly, I am. I try my best to help her see the beauty of the WHOLE person and not physical beauty. But the push towards physical beauty as justification of who you are and who you will become surrounds Tiny despite my best efforts. I mean, we can’t go anywhere without someone telling her how beautiful she is or how cute her dress is. RastaDaddy constantly focuses his compliments on physical aspects. Uggg..what is a mama who wants her daughter to rebel against what our culture has done to women supposed to do?

I’ll tell you. This mama needs to get her head out of her ass, appreciate who she is and not what she looks like, and model this Every. Single. Minute. For. Tiny. Period. No ifs, no ands, no buts. I need to show her that life is incredible and anything is possible because of WHO you are and not what you look like. I need to instill in her the desire to fight back against this disgusting engine of repression, oversexualization, and degradation of women. I need to show Tiny that it is possible for our world to change the majoritive view on the importance of physical appearances.

No small task right? So what would you do? Where would you start?

I’ll check back in and let you know how this all goes. Or maybe I’ll just say “to heck with it” and give her a pile of Barbies to play with. (Just kidding. Just kidding).
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APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss babywearing!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 1 with all the carnival links.)

 

 

Comments

  1. This is the first time I visit your blog and linger on it since the change, wow it is stunning!

    That said, I feel you on this one. I struggle with being fat, and having a skin depigmentation IN MY FACE! I frankly just don’t feel beautiful and I don’t even want to tell you the words that go through my mind… nearly all the time.

    I am intentional about this and I know this will change. I do talk to my daughter as if fat is not the synonym of ugly. We have discussions like “I like your soft belly” and I’ll say, isn’t my belly wonderful, for it allowed both you and your brother to grow and grow until I was big as a house and you had to come out”. I think my daughter doesn’t have fat issues… Luckily we live in AFrica… But still.
    I also don’t diet. But I do let a ‘I’m so tired of being so fat’ slip once in a while. Ugh
    Difficult topic

  2. My daughter is 4, my son is 6. A few days ago we saw a billboard advertising make-up and my kids commented that you need purple lipstick to be beautiful. We ended up turning it into a joke. I said, “You don’t need purple lipstick to be beautiful, you’re beautiful just the way you are… You need purple lipstick to be… purple.” But it alarmed me just how easy it is for kids to get twisted messages. We hardly ever watch TV, I’m pretty happy with my own body image, I’m doing my best to do the right thing and yet.. all it takes is walking down the street and seeing a billboard a few times. And yes, it does scare me.

  3. I’m finding that being a parent is making me think critically about my own assumptions and biases and then actively try to work through them to some place better.

    The growth and well being of our little ones is a great motivator!

    I’m wondering if a good balance between not loving ourselves and having to 100% love everything about ourselves is that we aren’t perfect. There are things we might wish were better BUT we can still accept and love ourselves. I feel like there’s less pressure in that.

  4. Oh, I feel you on this one, Jennifer! I wish I had answers. I certainly don’t. My daughter is almost 4, and this is something I think about often. You are right that it starts with how we see ourselves. I’m going to pay more attention to this myself!

  5. This is something I think about a lot as the mom of 2 daughters. On the one hand I want to teach my girls that they are far more than their looks. On the other hand I fear that not praising their innate beauty will make them more vulnerable to thinking that they aren’t beautiful and in our culture that is the worst thing a woman can be. As much as I want them to be strong independent women they can’t avoid the messages of our culture even if they try to fight against them.
    I find that as an intelligent adult with plenty in my life to call success I easily get brought down by the message that my body isn’t good enough. I have to work hard to shield myself from that message or it will overwhelm me when I’m not careful. It is much easier to do that as a SAHM with homeschooled kids than it would have been at some earlier stages of my life.

  6. Gauri of LovingEarthMama says:

    Totally agree, it starts with us. Changing ourselves and modelling a new way of being is the only way our kids stand a chance of really internalising the message that ‘I am – is enough’, that I love myself for who I am (not what I look like), etc. Yes, it begins with me… and yes, that is hard work but, hey, if I can’t change this thinking in me how could I possibly think I could help her grow up differently!

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, as ever. Your fan,

    Gauri

  7. This is something I struggle with. I will not degrade myself in front of my children, as I want them to grow up with healthy views of themselves. Tat doesn’t stop the internal dialogue, though. It has had years to build up, starting in my childhood by the adults around me. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am ending a cycle of violence and low self-worth – not just for my children but also for myself.

    Thanks for joining us this month.

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