I had an important mommy conversation with one of my close girlfriends the other day. We were talking about our daughters and their own body image. I must admit that the conversation began when we were criticizing our own flaws and the extra lbs we’ve both put on vacationing and indulging this summer. This is easy to do when dishing with my pals, but when we notices our girls playing close by, our bitch session became a whisper.
The way we see ourselves as women is so important through the eyes of our children. I am very careful to not always say what I am thinking and to choose my words very carefully. I try never to use the words FAT, or ugly (unless I’m talking about personality characteristics). When I talk about healthy eating I always teach them about “foods that make you grow” instead of foods that make you fat. I have been through several difficult stages with one of my daughters when she was overly self-conscious about her cute little body. It’s never easy to know where their ideas come from, but I promise you they pick them up from their surroundings. So much negativity sticks. I have always been big on enforcing exercise and healthy eating, yes even during their younger years. I just believe that healthy tools will set them up for life. I grocery shop with my kids, we cook together, and I teach them how to eat sensibly.
Recently, I was talking with my kids about getting more exercise. With summer in full swing and lots more time on our hands, I want them to stay busy and active. I also love for them to focus on the kinds of activities they love but don’t always have time for during the school year – dance, horseback riding and tennis. My emphasis on exercise was grossly misinterpreted in their tender minds as “You think we need to lose weight!” Totally not what I was thinking, and certainly not my intention. I realized how carefully I must choose my words when it comes to anything having to do with body, exercise and eating. Their minds are so impressionable… I quickly told them how perfect their cute selves were and that I loved their bodies. I only wanted them to stay fit for many reasons and enjoy the extra time on hand this summer with extra fun activities. I also explained more about foods that are healthy and beneficial for energy and nutritional reasons. Of course I put them in words they could relate too.
What a dangerous topic, especially for our little girls. They need to feel confident at every age and at any size. We have a responsibility to teach them in an effective way how to take the best care of themselves possible. It all starts at home. Unfortunately, so do the bad habits. Be aware of everything when you are talking about diet, exercise and body image. My world can be a brutal one, but I try to keep it as healthy as possible for the sake of my girls.
I hope my girls grow to embrace their bodies and every stage and we should try to do the same.