Let’s face it, the number of us concerned with our body image has never been higher than it is now. Many of us blame the increase in weight and body image issues on the media while others blame the diet and fitness industries.
While I typically like to discuss which workouts are most efficient and fun to fit into daily life, I am also a life coach and believe that seeing yourself in a positive light is crucial to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. It is also important to promote body positivity with your kids, and that can be difficult to do if you’re struggling with embracing it yourself.
We live in a society that sells image over substance nine times out of ten, and it is often commonplace to use shaming, exploitative, and manipulative advertising tactics as a form of motivation. If you always feel bad enough about yourself, then you’re more likely to buy that miracle pill, cream, or service to look your best.
Children are also subjected to negative messages and unfortunately have started showing signs of negative body image issues as early as the age of 5.
According to a survey conducted by GirlGuiding UK in 2013, one in five primary school-age girls admitted they have been on a diet. While 87% of girls aged 11-21 think that women are judged more on their appearance than their ability. At an age when children should be developing their interests in school, culture, and how they view the world, they are instead discouraged from cultivating a healthy view of themselves.
Although it may seem improbable in the current beauty-obsessed culture, we live in to encourage children to love themselves unconditionally; I say it is not impossible.
I am not suggesting that these three tips will eradicate all body image issues. But in utilising them, you can begin to take control of your household.
3 ways you can promote healthy body image to your kids
1. Evaluate your relationship with body image, weight, and food. Do you assign moral value to food? Do you have a healthy attitude towards your own body? Children learn by example and studies show that children who grow up with parents who make derogatory statements about their diet and weight have a drastically increased risk of sharing that same mindset. One of the most efficient ways to instil an attitude of self-acceptance in your child is to have one yourself. Adopt an attitude toward your body that you want your child to replicate.
2. Encourage your child to known his or her strengths and what makes them unique and extraordinary. Start conversations about their world and ask their opinion on subjects that don’t involve appearances. Teach your children to value strengths beyond looks, such as kindness, mindfulness, and knowledge. You owe it to your kids to show them that there is more to life than meets the eye.
3. Stop criticising, envying, and judging other people based on their bodies, looks, beliefs, or diets. Kids already view hundreds of nasty “trolling” comments plastered all over social media on a daily basis. They don’t need more of that at home. We live in a society where complete strangers tear each other apart with rude, unsolicited comments regarding physical appearances.
These observations are not only horribly cruel, but they serve no purpose.
Lead by example when it comes to making statements about others. As the saying goes, “Admiring someone else’s beauty shouldn’t diminish your own“.
Choose to talk positively and substantially about others and your children will take notice.
While it often appears as though the unattainable beauty standard is here to stay, an exciting shift is taking place.
In 2015, social media users fought for body type acceptance through campaigns, such as #EffYourBeautyStandards and the Body Positivity movement.
People want to see more diversity in the media they consume.
And an important step is — for everyone — to show that beauty is about more than our weight and outer appearances.