You’ve heard the phrase, “Quarantine 15” haven’t you? You automatically know it’s talking about weight gain due to lockdown and snacking habits, I’m sure. But are kids oblivious to this world of body image issues and concern with weight and size?
Often we hear “culture” is the biggest influencer on female body image. We can point to fashion trends, Hollywood, commercials, you name it…But do you know the FIRST influencer for female body image is MOM? Yup. We provide our kids with a frame of reference : the “set of ideas, conditions, or assumptions that determine how something will be approached, perceived, or understood.” Perhaps you grew up having looks affirmed a certain way and haven’t put much thought into how you yourself relate to things in front of your kids now that you’re a mom.
Our kids watch and listen to what we say and do, and while we may not be speaking to them when we chat about the latest diet fad with our adult mom friends, their ears are soaking it in. In psychology terms, this is called modeling. And unlike models at Vogue, you don’t have to be a size 2 to “model” a healthy body image for your daughter.
What are our girls seeing from us in relation to our bodies, clothing, and food? My daughter watches me as I do my makeup, she listens to my conversations about food and watches me clothes shopping. She’s even stuck with me as I try things on…so what does she hear me saying? How often do our girls hear us say words about ourselves that we would never want them to say about themselves? Are size-comparison words or weight gain or loss regularly praised or pouted over in our homes? These kinds of things stick with our girls as they grow, as do the things they start to hear from their friends and TV. Let’s set them up to have the right things sticking to them initially so that the unhelpful words and ideas don’t have as much to hold onto.
I’m sure all of us have made a remark before about not feeling like we look our best. We’re human, right? But being intentional about our words and actions around our girls can really impact their lives positively for their entire adult lives. Maybe that means wearing a swimsuit without making disparaging remarks about ourselves. It might be asking our family members to spend quality time hiking together for enjoyment and health rather than announcing shame-based appearance-berating calls to action. I enjoy a good transformation show because I find them inspiring, but I’m clicking off reruns of “The Biggest Loser” until after kids are in bed so they don’t think value is based on size. What will you do or stop doing to build your daughter’s future towards a positive body image?
I want my daughter to know these truths about herself:
She is a “masterpiece” and “wonderfully made.” (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:14)
While her appearance is lovely, she is also valuable for what is inside. (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Samuel 16:7). God didn’t make any mistakes; her differences make her special (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:14; Ephesians 2:10). Walking in confidence myself will help her, too. I pray for you to be able to do the same, Mama!