As moms, we know firsthand the pressures and insecurities that come with living in a world fixated on appearances.
From the moment our children take their first steps, we become their guides on a journey toward self-love and acceptance. In today’s image-obsessed society, it’s more important than ever to raise a body-positive child who embraces their uniqueness.
This isn’t an easy feat, though. We’ve survived decades of diet culture and impossible beauty standards, and many of us have repressed negative feelings about ourselves and our bodies because of it. However, we’re like mirrors to our kids. To raise a body-positive child, you’ve got to dig deep and find it in yourself, first.
So, here are 5 ways to evoke body positivity in yourself and your kids:
You’re a mirror…
Children are perceptive observers, and they learn best by watching those they admire—namely, you, their parents.
This is why nurturing a love for ourselves and our bodies is crucial to raising a body-positive child. Whether you’re wrapped up in diet culture or chasing beauty standards, take a step back to access where you’re at.
These questions will help you gage your current relationship with your body:
- Do I embrace and accept my body as it is, including its imperfections?
- Do I celebrate and appreciate my body’s strengths and capabilities?
- Do I prioritise my overall well-being and health rather than solely focusing on physical appearance?
- Am I able to see beauty and value in diverse body types, sizes, and shapes?
- Do I speak positively about myself and avoid self-deprecating or negative comments?
- Am I able to set aside comparison and avoid making judgments about others’ bodies?
- Do I challenge societal beauty standards and recognise that they are unrealistic and arbitrary?
- Am I able to enjoy food without guilt or shame?
- Do I surround myself with media, influencers, and social circles that promote body positivity and inclusivity?
- Am I able to practice self-care and prioritise activities that make me feel good mentally, emotionally, and physically?
By modelling body positivity and nurturing a positive mindset and routine based on treating your body with kindness (no matter your current shape or size) you will inspire your child to do the same.
Unlearning diet culture
In our society, diet culture has permeated our lives, promoting harmful messages about weight, food restrictions, and unrealistic body ideals. As parents, it’s crucial to help ourselves and our children, to unlearn damaging beliefs and cultivate a healthy relationship with food and our beautiful bodies.
One habit that will help curb the diet culture craze is ‘intuitive eating’, which involves listening to and honouring your natural bodily cues: hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. Teach child to trust their body’s wisdom and eat in a way that nourishes and satisfies them, without attaching morality or guilt to food choices.
Emphasise the importance of body autonomy, teaching your child that they have the right to decide what feels best for their body. Help them understand that external pressures, like beauty standards or peer influence, should never dictate their choices about food, exercise, or body modifications.
Remember, the journey to unlearning diet culture is ongoing, and it requires continuous education and self-reflection. These are simple habits to pick up on when you start young, but undoing decades of diet culture will take time. Be patient with yourself on this journey.
Celebrate all the beautiful bodies
Our world is a tapestry of beautiful bodies, each one unique and worthy of celebration.
Introduce your child to diverse body types through books, media, and real-life experiences. When you spark conversations about the beauty found in our differences, inside and out, you’re teaching your child to celebrate the aspects that make us who we are, instead of feeling ashamed about our differences.
If you really want this acceptance to shine through in your child, you need to believe it. Go back to asking yourself the important questions: are you giving your body the love it deserves? If you’re not, those shameful patterns will reflect in your judgement towards other bodies.
When you can embrace all bodies, you will embrace yourself too.
In the era of the ‘influencer’ it’s easy to get lost comparing yourself and your experiences to others’, bolstering those unrealistic beauty standards that drive us to lose touch with the magic of who we are, as we are. If you’re in the habit of comparing yourself to others, your child will reflect this.
It’s important to talk to your child about the influence media has on body image, and help them develop the critical thinking skills to navigate these encounters. Encourage open conversations about beauty standards and how they’re packaged and delivered to us through our daily experiences and interactions. Teach them to question and challenge unrealistic portrayals, empowering them to form their own opinions and reject harmful comparisons.
Let’s be in our bodies
Deepening the connection with your body requires movement.
To be comfortable in our bodies, we need to trust in all the remarkable things they can do. How do we build that trust? By doing!
Finding a physical activity that grounds you and gets your body moving will connect you to the power you possess. You feel your strongest when you overcome an obstacle that challenges you. By finding a physical activity that captures you interest and challenges you, you will teach your child to prioritise and make time for building a strong physical and mental connection with their bodies.
Find something you can do together, like yoga, swimming, or a combat class.
Feature Image: Getty