I’m sure you’ve seen the social media posts advocating for us to teach our daughters to love themselves no matter what they look like, what size jeans they wear, or how much they weigh. But who is teaching the boys that they should also love women that way?
I had a very healthy pregnancy and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within one week of delivery. But the scale is just a number! Did my low-rise jeans fit the same way? Heck no! And they still don’t four months later. If I’m being honest, yes, it does bother me a little bit (mostly because I don’t want to have to buy new jeans)…but I’ve promised myself that I won’t talk negatively about my body because I don’t want Max picking up on it. I don’t want him to think that you can critique people’s bodies – for any reason. I don’t want him to ever feel self-conscious about his body. And I don’t want him to think that women’s value has anything to do with their looks.
I’ve followed three principles to establish a healthy, loving relationship with my body and food. It has been a process over time and does not happen overnight. And while I believe that husbands/fathers play an important role in teaching these principles, as well, I have a responsibility to model the best behavior for my child in a way only a mother can.
How I plan to model positive body image for my child:
1. Focus on health, not on weight
The scale is just a number. It can go up after you’ve flown on an airplane or had a hard workout the previous day, so don’t even bother with the scale. Focus on providing your body with healthy food, fueling your body properly, listening to your body and what it needs, and moving your body in a way that feels good and that you enjoy.
2. No “good” or “bad” foods & No diets or cheat days
Food is meant to fuel our bodies, but of course we can treat ourselves, too. It’s all about balance. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself if you ate a cupcake. Eating a cupcake doesn’t make you a “bad” person and that one cupcake will not kill you. You shouldn’t be thinking of how long you’ll need to workout to burn it off, or how many less calories you’ll eat the next day to make up for it. On the flip side, eating all carrots one day doesn’t make you “good”.
Another way of putting this is to say NO diets or cheat days. I certainly don’t want to teach my son that only eating 1,000 calories in a day makes him a “good” person! It doesn’t make sense to deprive your body and then reward yourself with a cheat day. Eat foods that fuel your body – a healthy mix of protein, fats, and carbs at each meal – and foods that taste good. Again, it’s all about balance.
3. No body comparison
The old quote “comparison is the thief of joy” is overused but true. Next time you look at another woman and think “ugh I wish I had her body”, reframe it. You don’t need to have a body like hers to be happy! Nothing is stopping you from being happy in this very moment. Just because someone else “looks good” (to you…no one else compared you two) does not mean you are less worthy of love or happiness.
If and when I have a daughter, I will certainly try to model the same behavior. Until then I will model it for my son, because if he can help spread the message, I hope it will do the tiniest bit of good.
PS – You are BEAUTIFUL, remember that!