December 30, 2013

Mothering 101: The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Body Image of Yourself

As women, most of us worry about our weight and the current state of our figure. As the Trace Adkins song goes, “You want that body back you had a 17…” – I know that is true for me. I mean, really….what woman doesn’t want to look like she did in high school? Back when our skin was tight, gravity hadn’t affected us yet and we had no idea what a “muffin top” was.

While most of us worry about our appearance and work to get it back into shape (or the shape we used to have, anyways), for those of us with children, it is incredibly important that we keep a healthy perspective about ourselves and our bodies. Why? Those little people are studying us.

In fact, our children are better than spies. They watch everything. They pay attention to the things we say to people, about people and especially how we talk about ourselves. They learn what is right and wrong with the world by the things we say. Therefore, if we are constantly saying, “I need to lose weight,” or “I wish I looked like that,” then our kids are going to believe that we’re right and there really is something wrong with us because we don’t look like the models on the magazine covers.

For those of you with young girls, I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to make peace with your body. When mothers are so focused on the way they look, or appear to be to their daughters, this attitude will pass on to their girls. As the girls grow, they will begin to critique their own bodies and, if they aren’t happy with what they see, they could develop an eating disorder, low self-esteem or some other unhealthy habit.

While those are all bad, the worst is probably the fact that these girls will hold their self-value in their appearances. It won’t matter how smart they are or that they have a large group of friends who like them for their personality, all that they will focus on is their looks. I’m fairly certain that this is not something any mother wants for her daughter. Therefore, she needs to change the way she talks about herself in front of her daughter. Sure, we all have imperfections and it’s okay to work on those imperfections, but we shouldn’t focus on them to the point that we don’t see the beauty in anything else.

For those of us with young boys, it’s still important that we maintain a healthy body image of ourselves. Our little boys are looking to us, their mothers, to show them what qualities are desirable in women. I know that I don’t want my boys to grow up to be so shallow as to believe that the only beautiful women are those who are “skinny.” True beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and is much deeper than skin deep. That is what I want my boys to know as they get older and begin to date.

I don’t want them to date girls only because they believe them to be pretty on the outside. I want them to date the girls who they believe are pretty inside and out. And, believe it or not, it starts with me.