Updated: Dec 22, 2022
I invite you to take a moment and think back to how you grew up. What were the messages you received about your body? Were you taught that you could be beautiful and healthy at any size? Were you taught you had to look a certain way to be a valuable member of society?
From a very early age, I learned that women were supposed to be thin and anyone who wasn't thin was less desirable. Desperate to be desirable and loved, I vowed to become thin at all costs. I began restricting my food intake in the 5th grade. It became so noticeable that my parents were called because I would only eat carrots for lunch and my friends became concerned. My food woes went on from there and didn't resolve until my early twenties.
I received very clear messages from my family that thinness and looking attractive in general were very important and that any deviation from thinness/attractiveness would be pointed out and judged. When I became a mom, I knew that I wanted to create a different experience for my two daughters.
The first step to creating a body-positive home environment is self-inquiry into your own relationship with food and what messages you may have absorbed throughout your life about food, body size, and your physical looks in general. Are you in need of healing from these destructive messages? If so, seek your own healing first.
Side note: Many of us do not realize we still have healing to do until we become pregnant. Our bodies change and grow and all of a sudden we are faced with being much larger than we have ever been. This can trigger our past body image wounds and they can come bubbling up to the surface. If this is happening to you this is a sign that it is time to attend to those wounds.
The second step is to proactively read books and talk about body acceptance and loving our imperfect bodies. Model loving your own imperfect body in front of your children. Talk to your children about how magical our bodies are. Use daily positive affirmations and mantras about loving your bodies. Avoid speaking negatively about your body or looks.
The third step is to openly talk about how misguided society is regarding the pressure to look a certain way and how this can be harmful. Counter any destructive messages your children are receiving. Pay attention to how your children talk about their own bodies and/or the bodies of others and intervene if needed. Remind your children that their inherent value is not tied to their physical appearance and it never will be.
Some book recommendations that teach body positivity to kids:
Huffpost has a great article with a comprehensive list of books that boost positive body image: Huffpost Article
Here are some ways we can change the way we talk about our bodies in front of our kids: