My Body Image Action Plan

Since writing my post on body image and raising children, I have spent quite a lot of time contemplating what I can do to help my children learn to accept themselves, no matter how they look and to love themselves. Over the months, things have come to me, I have had realisations and I have come up with some thoughts which I have come to think of as my Body Image Action Plan.

Obviously, it’s not a quick fix, it’s not a one-size fits all plan and it certainly needs to be something I can adapt according to life, situations and the stages each child is going through at any given time. After sharing my thoughts on loving my body yesterday I thought I would share some of the things I am doing currently and some of the things I plan to do in the future with my children in the hope that I can give them the tools they need to get through their teen years without succumbing to the warped view of themselves that can be the downfall of so many. Some things are obvious, but I still have them there, just as a reminder to not get complacent.

Without any further ado (ie ramblings);

Becky of Becky and James’
Body Image Action Plan

  • Talk About health, food, our bodies, exercise. We already do this, we talk about what is good for us, what is a ‘sometimes’ food’ and why it is. Just in everyday life, in everyday language – it’s not a lecture or a planned discussion and Ellie enjoys learning about food and what’s good for her and then makes choices according to her new found knowledge.
  • Move Getting us all moving and feeling good from the exercise and from the new skills we’re learning. Being strong and fit, no matter what our size or body shape will help give us confidence and that’s another thing we will talk about down the track.
  • Eat Making sure we eat a healthy diet and understand the way our body reacts to what we eat is a simple but important part of being healthy. I never understood my body, I never knew what it was telling me and I want to help my girls learn to listen to what they’re being told.
  • Accept – In order for my girls to know what self acceptance looks like I need to accept myself as I am. I need to model the behaviour I want them to display. As hard as it is, I have to take what I have learned from the I Heart My Body campaign and love my body for what it’s done.
  • Forgive Some days you eat crap and don’t exercise so much. There are events and parties. Making a big deal out of these days, freaking out and overcompensating is not how I want to approach them. If we accept them and move on, back to our normal healthy life style (assuming they only happen once in a while) then it’s not starting a ‘good food, bad food’ cycle.
  • Show Confidence. Wear clothes that flatter my body, instead of hiding it. Buy clothes for the girls that are the same, perfect for their shapes and age appropriate.
  • Share When they’re old enough to understand I want to share my story with them as well as show them things like the recent link up which shows the beauty of bodies of all shapes and sizes.
  • Encourage Allowing my children to be themselves and express themselves in ways that make them feel good is an important step. Sometimes, it’s hard to let a child just be, but stifling who they are and their personality certainly can’t send a positive massage. I think we should all take a page out of Mrs Woog’s book.
  • Surround There are so many awesome affirmations that can be found online, I want to print some and put them up in our house. Positivity needs to be my go-to, especially in body related situations and hopefully this will simply be a natural instinct for my children as the grow.
  • Question – The effect of TV and media on children’s perception of what is beautiful and how they look is well documented and irradiating the ‘perfect‘ and ‘beauty‘ myths that may come my children’s way would be more than a full time job (not to mention impossible). I can’t lock them up and stop them seeing these outside mediums, however I can do my best to stop these things influencing my children. I want to teach them to question what they see. When they’re a little older and able to understand what they are seeing I plan to use what limited Photoshop skills I have to show exactly what can be done to a photo.

    I also follow a board on Pinterest, appropriately named Don’t Compare Yourself to Celebrities, where the curator shares Photoshop before and after shots from magazines as well as obvious Photoshop fails where things like legs have been Photoshopped out. I knew about airbrushing but these photos really show celebrities as real people, beautiful as they are.

Obviously, this is in no way fool proof. Even now, I sit here looking and wondering what I am missing or if I am going overboard. But, then I remember that; firstly, this is something I am passionate and these are all things that will benefit me and be a knock-on effect for my family and secondly, this isn’t all just going to be thrown at them at the same time. It’s a life thing, a time thing.


6 Comments

  1. Well written becky. I have been quite aware of body image and self confidence with my girls aswell. I acutally asked my parents to stop letting bell hop on the scales at their place as she was becoming obsessed with the numbers, and while harmless now, things can quickly change!

    I believe that as parents, my hubby and I need to set good examples, If we eat it, the girls can eat it. (which limits things anyway with their allergies) and I dont want to feed my girls alot of unhealthy foods so therefore, i dont eat them either.

    I also believe a HUGE part is the way we perceive others. I have grown up around people who would comment on other peoples differences to make themself feel better. All this did for me was make me feel like everybody was staring at and analyzing me for all my flaws. News flash – no one has flaws – we are all just different AND no one is looking at me anyway – they are all too busy worrying about themselves!

    I think CONFIDENCE is what makes a person really stand out and be beautiful. Of course they need to have a lovely kind nature to go with it but without confidence people dont ‘shine’ like they deserve. Its really interesting to observe a room, the people you perceive as the beautiful ones are the confident ones. That goes for clothing too – if your confident wearing it, you’ll look amazing. If your not, dont buy it/wear it. Confidence in yourself means high self esteem and thats the biggest hurdle.

    A healthy life means doing things regularly not seriously. keep moving, plan fresh whole food meals – meat and veg etc. dont stress over calories or nutrients, if there is colour on the plate and some protein then you’ve done well. if you have somehting bad, let yourself enjoy it and move on. GUILT is the culprit of all things bad. and DONT set unrealistic goals. i dont even set goals, take each day, each moment as it comes, its easier that way. Being healthy in mind body and soul is a lifestyle change, not a short term goal with a finish line. Its better to reflect on how far you have come rather than how far you need to go. live in the moment, be happy with your successes – focus on the positive! Reflect in a diary – this is great for kids to do once they can write, keep a positive diary to read on bad days.

    I could go on forever but this is supposed to be a comment not a blog. lol

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “Allowing my children to be themselves and express themselves in ways that make them feel good is an important step. Sometimes, it’s hard to let a child just be, but stifling who they are and their personality certainly can’t send a positive message.”

    And yes – all media is airbrushed – its important our chidlren are aware of this once age appropriate, and realise that skinny doesnt = beautiful, its not that simple 🙂

    • Beck – love your comment, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. It’s so good to get other perspectives, it allows me to check my position on the issue and change anything I need to change.
      It’s such an important thing and, while I know I won’t get it perfect, I want to do the best I can.

    • And maybe you should think about starting a blog 😉

  2. great blog post! I dont want my daughter to grow up thinking that constant dieting is normal.. or my boys to think that beautiful women are airbrushed ones..I’m trying to be a good role model for them but it is hard not to get caught up in endless negative thinking.. especially growing up hearing it myself. I will be coming back to have a good read of this post when I have time.. have bookmarked it!

    • Thank you for your comment. You’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s all I can do to avoid the negativity that I have lived with my whole life but I know I have to for the children.
      I no longer buy glossy magazines as I don’t want that to become the ‘norm’ and for my girls to reach for an impossible ideal or for my son to go looking for that ‘perfect’ girl who doesn’t exist.

  3. I didn’t see this post the first time round. Thanks for linking this to today’s post. I love your proactive action plan. I’ve thought about this issue on and off but not listed a plan of attack. I’ll bookmark your post to help me think about this. Have you heard of the following that talk about empowering girls and body image issues?
    7Wonderlicious
    Empowering Girls to Fly High
    <a href="http://blog.pigtailpals.com/"<Redefine Girly
    Peggy Orenstein

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