Those of you who know me know that I’m not only a Psychologist, but I’m a Mum as well.
A lot of other moms ask me, “what can I do to make sure my kids don’t get eating disorders?” or “what can I do to make sure that they don’t have body image problems?”.
I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t run around the house telling your kids how fat they are and insulting their bodies. But as important, if not more important than that is to consider your own relationship to your own body.
When you’re around the house with your kids or when you’re out and about, how do you talk about your own body?
Are you running around saying things like, “oh, I could firm up a bit” or “I wish my breasts were bigger” or, “oh, there’s something wrong here, I wish my nose were a bit smaller”? Because if you’re doing that, you are normalizing body dissatisfaction for your children. You are telling them that it is normal, particularly for women, to dislike the way they look.
It’s a very powerful lesson that you’re giving your kids, because they look to you for what is normal and what is right.
Now it’s not your fault that you might have hang ups about the way you look. Lord knows it’s nearly impossible to feel good about yourself in the society that we live in. But it is your responsibility as a parent to help change the next generation.
Now I’ll tell you a little story. My daughter must have been about seven or eight. I was getting ready in the morning and I was just wearing my underwear and my bra and she comes running up to me and throws her little arms around me, nestles her head into my back and says “Mummy, when I grow up, I wanna have a big, squishy bum just like yours”…
There were a lot of things I could have said in that moment.
There were a lot of different messages going through my head.
But I turned around and I looked into those beautiful, blue eyes and they were looking to me with admiration and with love, but they were also looking to me for a response. They were also looking to me to validate what it is that she was feeling about me, her mother, her mother’s body.
And so I looked at her and I said, “Baby, when you grow up, you might just have a big squishy bum just like Mummy.” She had a giggle and I had a giggle, and it was lovely.
Now I know this stuff is hard for a lot of you. It’s really hard. Whether that’s because of the messages you got as children or simply the society we live in.
And it’s not your fault that you might feel badly about your body.
But it is your responsibility to change the next generation.
Be brave, dig deep and make change happen.