"Oh geez! These jeans make mommy's tummy stick out!" I said after I slipped on a pair of size 4 jeans that maybe went through one too many tumbles in the dryer.
And a few days later...
While looking in the mirror with her shirt pulled up and tucked under her chin, "Mommy, look how much my tummy is sticking out!"
Yes, as much as I hate to admit it, those words came out of my three-year-old's mouth.
And there's only one person to blame for that. Myself.
I've struggled with body image my entire life. I've never been overweight, but having someone call you "fat" and say that your stomach hangs over your jeans when you're a size zero? That's something that sticks with you no matter your weight. That, among many other things, have really led me to see a completely distorted image of my body.
I know nobody is perfect. I know that chances are, I'll probably slip up and say more negative things about my body and my appearance. It happens. It's just how us women can be sometimes. We compare ourselves to our celebrity "counterparts" and think that their beauty is real beauty. We thrive off of the negativity that we've been bred to attempt to live up to. It's like we're running in place. We're caking ourselves in make-up, getting endless plastic surgical procedures, attempting diet after diet and exercise program after exercise program to try and live-up to this image that exists no where but inside of our heads.
And we're teaching our daughter's to do the same exact thing.
It doesn't have to be that way though. We, as mothers, have the difficult responsibility of instilling a positive self image in our little girls. It's not an easy task, what so ever, but there are steps we can take to help our little angels feel more confident about themselves. Alea may only be three-years-old, but it's obvious that these concepts of body image begin sooner than we may think. It's never too early to start encouraging a healthy body image with our little ones.
5 Ways to Encourage a Healthy Body Image:
one | Tell her she's beautiful. Every single day. Tell them what you love about them. Like for example, I absolutely love Alea's little button nose and her pinch-able cheeks!
two | Be a good example. Point out the things that you love about your body rather than putting yourself down. Especially in front of them. They learn so much from us, as parents. They absorb everything we say. We've got to be so, so careful.
three | Talk about their concerns. Be open about things with your child, especially when they're older. If they're feeling uncomfortable with certain parts of their body, let them tell you about it.
four | Explain that images in media aren't real. It's amazing what Photoshop can do these days, isn't it? Explain the process of photo editing to your child and tell them that the "beauty" that's portrayed in magazines isn't necessarily achievable.
five | Don't talk about "fat" and "thin," but rather talk about healthy eating and the importance of physical activity. Don't just preach these things though, practice them too and lead by example.
Next time you think about calling yourself fat or engaging in "fat talk" with your friends, stop and think about it. What are you accomplishing by discussing your body in such a negative light? You know how it is. Women get together and it becomes some kind of silly contest. Who's feeling the fattest, who has the most pimples and who's gained the most weight. It's becoming part of our everyday conversation and it's disgusting and completely self-destructive. By no means am I trying to tell you that I'm perfect and that I don't engage in "fat talk" with other women. I'm telling you that I know that I do and I know that you do too, and we all just need to knock it off. Plain and simple.
You need to watch this video from Special K and tell me it isn't true. Just try and tell me that you don't say those negative things about yourself. That you don't look in the mirror after you get out of the shower and pick apart your body from head to toe. We all do it. It's just who we say and think these things in front of that we need to be careful of. I know none of us want our daughter's or our children to look in the mirror and pick apart the person looking back at them. Just the thought breaks my heart.
Special K's campaign to "Fight the Fat Talk" is something I feel so passionately about. My heart feels like it's doing somersaults as I write this post! It hits so close to home now that I have a little girl watching and taking mental notes on everything I do and say. I want those things that I do and those things that I say to teach her how to love herself! You know? And did you know that this positive self-talk and positive thinking can also lead to positively surprising weight loss results? If you're struggling to lose weight despite the healthy eating and exercise routines you're currently engaging in, maybe you need to bring more positivity into your life? It makes sense, doesn't it? I'm just shocked that I've never thought of it like that! Be part of the change and part of the spread of positive self-talk. You might be surprised where it leads you!
Let's start the positive talk right now! Tell me at least one thing that you absolutely LOVE about your body. Don't be shy!