This isn’t a lecture to all moms. This is written from a woman that suffered from an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, and anxiety. I now have two girls to raise to be healthier than I ever was. I cannot prevent anything, but I can give them tools to see themselves in a different light than I ever did. Since children do not come with a manual, I have learned much through failure and I have compiled successful things that we have done to grow our girls to see their bodies as strong. We are not finished yet, but we are on the right track.
When I was in second grade, I looked down at my thighs and I thought they were fat. When I had girls I knew I was going to have to be proactive in this area as the media, society, and moms have a strong influence on young girls’ body images. As a mom, I have to model good habits. I have to be growing in this area as well. They need to see what the process looks like of loving our bodies at every stage.
- I did not get magazines that came to the house.
- I limited TV, commercials, and ads. TV also included the Disney channel until we could watch it together and then I pointed out the way they portrayed girls.
- They played with American Girls, not Barbies. Barbie is just unrealistic.
- I never went on a diet, talked about diet, or even complained about my body out loud.
- I did not give food as a reward or when they were bored.
- They ate what we ate at dinner. I was not a short order cook.
- We ate goldfish, waffles, and lunch meat.
- We also ate chicken, fish, eggs, and whatever John killed while hunting.
- We rarely did fast food except for Chic Fil A…I think they put crack in their chicken.
- We ate dinner together every night and never in front of the TV.
- We celebrated what our bodies did and their growth.
- We talked about how girls will gain about 20-25% of their body weight during this time.
- When they gained or grew, we did not say much, just went and bought things that fit nicely.
- One grew first and is now gaining. One gained and is now growing. This was really, really, hard.
- Since they were so different, we shopped separately for them.
- We looked at how every person’s body is different and that is okay. Be okay where you are now. This is hard, but we have to keep trying.
- We did physical things together. We had fun doing it.
- We do not always eat our feelings, but sometimes chocolate is the best. This is a term we say while we laugh. We do understand the power of chocolate. We know chocolate can help some things…sometimes you just shove chocolate at them and walk away. This is how we survive puberty.
- We squat. We lift. We get really excited about the barbell numbers going up.
- We do not compare.
- We eat doughnuts…just not every day.
- We do not weigh ourselves. Scales and jean sizes do not matter.
- I show them how women’s clothes vary depending on size and cut. We talk about how stupid it is if we let a designer make us feel bad because we are strong.
- We have learned to dress the body we have with class.
- I model how our bodies are in constant transformation depending what kind of training we do, what we are asking our bodies to do and they are starting to see that and celebrate it.
- I count my macros and they see me at the end of the day usually trying to figure out how to eat more.
- We do not overeat….except when we eat pizza and ice cream. I always finish mine and theirs.
- We are learning to listen to our bodies.
- I have one daughter that eats like a horse. One that does not. It took years for them to appreciate the differences. I think we are getting there.
- We have good days and bad days. It is what it is.
- We look for the good things we like about ourselves. Eyes and hair we have going for us. We MAY be related to Sasquatch.
- We pop pimples. This makes us laugh and we laugh at the weird things our bodies do. WE REALLY CELEBRATE ALL THE WEIRD THINGS….and all the things that happen during puberty and menopause. Seriously, just think about that….
- We also talk about sex, and sex, and more sex. I answer every question they have no matter what. This has helped them see their bodies as a gift that it is. (These discussions should be videotaped…they are quite…comical and informative.)
I have a 15 year old and a 13 year old and my time is going quick. We say that we are “wonderfully and fearfully” made. When we say that, we need to show them the process of loving their bodies no matter where they are in the process of growing, changing, and developing. We do that by showing them how WE (as moms) love our bodies. If they can learn that at an early age, the foundation can help to carry them through seeing their body as a tool to accomplish things. It needs to be taken care of and treated well, just like their hearts. And as moms, we are just the people to lead them through it by the use of modeling, wisdom, honesty, and laughter….lots and lots of laughter.