No it isn’t – not at all. I just said that to get your attention. What I mean is that my body FUNCTIONS perfectly. I’m no Elle Macpherson but I have two legs that can run from work meeting to playschool. Two arms that can lift a baby up from his cot. Ears that have got so good at picking up squawks in the middle of the night and eyes that can spot a potential tripping hazard a mile away.
But us women love to berate our imperfections. My arms are chubby. My bum is huge. My tummy isn’t flat. And I’m kind of tired of it. Plus I’m worried. I’ve got a little daughter who is growing up with all this negative messaging about the female appearance swirling around her and I want to prepare her for it.
So, how do we as mothers lay down the foundations for a healthy body image for our children? Here are five tips I’ve learnt along the way:
- Never talk about your body negatively in front of them. Or other peoples for that matter. Don’t say you hate your tummy, or your bum’s too big or that woman’s thighs are wobbly. They’ll learn to mimic you and then you’re in trouble.
- Don’t focus on their looks too much. Little girls especially go through a phase (I’m currently in it with my daughter!) where it’s all about their dress, or hairclips or shoes. I read this great article about how to talk to girls and one suggestion is that instead of instinctively complimenting a little girl on her appearance as an ice-breaker (i.e “What a pretty dress!), instead ask her what her favourite book is. Try it – the results will be surprising.
- Encourage exercise. Even if they’re not into team sports, encourage them to swim. Or run. Or ride a bike. Anything that makes them sweat. Exercise is the foundation for a good body image and the results will stand them in good stead as they get older and go through huge physical events such as childbirth.
- Teach them about food. Let them help you fetch herbs from the garden or make a fruit salad, or stir a pot. I’m no angel when it comes to giving my kids treats but also try your hardest not to reward good behaviour with sweets or chocolate, wherever possible.
- Tell them they are strong and clever, not just pretty or attractive. Focus on all the things their body can achieve and not just how they look.
As women we need to appreciate the body we were given and make the most of it. Confidence is key and if we can inspire that in our children, well then, we’re halfway there.
(This is my last bit of begging I promise – if you haven’t already, please vote for me in the Kidzworld mommy blogger competition, as voting closes this Saturday. Would so appreciate it!)
This post originally appeared as a guest post on stylist Pippa J’s website.