This blog is inspired by a fitness advertisement that pops up on my Instagram feed, every day. The ad shows a very skinny woman, with millions of followers, essentially being the poster-child for health and fitness. Now, before you cut my head off, there is NOTHING wrong with being skinny. I am not here to bash those that are skinny or overweight. I am here because I want my daughters to know what it means to be healthy and have a positive self-image.
I am raising four girls. My oldest is almost 13, and she is at a very crucial age. Being in middle school, I am starting to see her look at her body differently. She even noted that her calf muscle was “jiggly” a week ago, (but after a week at cheer camp, it was firm). It wasn’t a big deal, but it stuck with me.
As a mom, it is my job to teach my girls about their body, being healthy, self-loving and to not fall into the pressures that society puts on every woman to look a certain way. Even I am guilty of scrolling on social media and seeing a woman with a killer body and then questioning my own. I DO NOT want this for my girls. It is my goal to show my them that seeing a picture or an Instagram post of a seemingly “perfect” body is not real life. After thinking of how I will teach my girls, here is my plan:
Tell them they are beautiful, all of the time.
The surmounted pressure to be thin is hard enough, but remember there are so many other factors like hair type, skin color, and beauty that hold a high, unrealistic, standard as well. By telling my girls they are beautiful all the time, and their bodies are beautiful, I hope it has an impact. It will always stay with them, and hopefully, in situations where they feel less attractive, my voice will be in the back of their head telling them how beautiful they are.
Teach them balance. Health and fitness are all about balance.
I don’t agree with depriving my kids of certain foods and snacks for fear of them getting “fat” or being “unhealthy.” I think the more you deprive them, the more likely they are to rebel. I want them to know they can eat cookies or pizza if they want, but in moderation! Letting them know if they consume these things all of the time, they will become unhealthy and may not be able to run, jump, or dance to their full potential. What each person puts in their body is important. My girls need to balance their treats out with something healthy, like vegetables, fruit, and water. My point is not to discourage or scare my girls, but to inform them and set them up to make proper decisions.
Tell them how important it is to stay active.
A huge part of being healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is exercise. I live for exercising because it changed my life. My girls are already very active, and I want to encourage them always to stay active and educate them on the benefits of exercise for their body and mind.
Teach them about body type and genetics.
We all have different body types. I know I am not meant to be a size 2 and my kids aren’t meant to be a size 2. I cannot pressure them to be something I am not. Two of my girls are already curvy, and I want them to love and celebrate the bodies they have and I need to be realistic with them. Mommy is curvy, grandma is curvy, and you very well may be curvy too. There is nothing wrong with being curvy.
We are all different shapes and sizes, and no two bodies are the same. There is not one body type that is the “ideal” type. It is all about being healthy. There are things about your body that you will not be able to change, because God made you this way. Love your body, take care of your body, celebrate your body, and help others see the beauty in theirs.
Do not let any person, picture or any social media outlet shape your perception of how your body should look.
I will show my children examples and ways of how people and social media can skew the way you view yourself. A lot of what you see is smoke and mirrors and very unrealistic. Even more disturbing, some of those banging bodies come with a price, (starvation, purging, drugs, multiple surgeries). So when they see that ad pop up on Instagram, they know it is not always real life. Look around at your peers, your mommy and everyday people- that is real.
I believe educating my girls all boils down to letting them see me model all things I talked about above. Healthy habits and self-love can be cultivated right in my own home. I cannot tell you how many mothers I have seen skew their daughters’ perception of themselves at a super young age, or mothers who pressure their children to not be fat or to not eat something, because it will make them fat. It is mind-blowing and super sad. I never want my girls to look back and say their mom negatively pressured them, causing an impact on their outlook on themselves and their lives.