We are officially in Summer and it is like the body hatred talk rises along with the summer heat here in south Florida.
Bad body talk is somehow acceptable in our society. If we look around, we hear it all over as if it is entirely reasonable to bash our bodies at every turn or someone’s else’s. Somehow, our morals and self worth gets attached to our body shape and size. As a mom of three girls who also works in the fitness industry , I do my best to be mindful in how I talk about my body, food and others in front of my girls. We can re-frame our self talk, break the cycles and to empowered ourselves and our children.
A few examples of negative body talk are:
- “This makes me look fat.”
- “Oh, she’s really let herself go.”
- “I probably shouldn’t eat this. I’m too fat already.”
Even the well intention comments that you might tell someone you love like; “Oh, you look so good! Did you lose weight?”.
I’ve even gotten some well intention’ed comments during my postpartum, like “you are getting too skinny, or you look better now with few pounds extra.”
These comments, while innocent at times , can be damaging. A few weeks ago I heard a 13 year old girl while having fun with her friends and trying to take photos, saying “I’m too fat for Instagram”. I’m so glad that I was there and said the things I said to her.
I’ve talked with clients and women who struggle with body image and have tell how a simple comment can stay in their heads all day that it’s hard for them to focus, It can affect your next meal, how you train and even how you treat others. Even well-meaning comments about weight to a child in a larger or smaller body can go destructively deep and damage their self-esteem. Here are a few things we can do to break the cycle, feel better this summer & empower our kids:
- Love Your Body, or at Least Accept It!
One of the best ways to accept our bodies as parents or in general , is to understand that there are so many forces at work that affect our body size, shape, and health. There are reasons that we have the body shape and size that we do—reasons that have nothing to do with how we eat or exercise. Genetics, hormones, and lifelong physical-activity patterns (including how naturally mobile you are ) have a profound effect on your body size and shape.
So it’s really important to work on accepting your own unique body. Be mindful about what you say about your body in front of them. We all have negatives thoughts, but we need to learn to recognized them and label them for what they are – the voice of your inner critique and not a reality.
If you critique your thighs in front of your daughter, you teach her that there might be something wrong with hers. But when we demonstrate love and care and respect for your own body, then it is more likely your children will develop this themselves.
- Understand How the Media Works
Another helpful thing is reminding ourselves and teaching our children to be media literate, to know how the diet and beauty industry insists on making us feel bad about our appearance by photo-shopping body parts , faces and giving us a picture of human beings that is is just fake! It lies to us by seeing that if we look a certain way we are going to happier a belong. And that simply not true. And well, If we felt excellent about ourselves, then we probably wouldn’t buy that diet or beauty product.
- Drop the Comparisons
Try to stop comparing yourself to others or idealized versions of yourself and instead focus on your individuality and strengths. See yourself as whole person. Remember that you are not your body or just a body. Even though it may be very difficult, try and avoid following pages, magazines, blogs that emphasize unrealistic body images or engage in negative body talk/fat shaming. Attempt to seek out and follow media that reinforces positive self-image, nor restrictive diets.
- Identify your Inner Critic
Try and be aware and acknowledge when you engage in negative body talk and try to turn down the volume on those negative thoughts and counter them with your strengths even if they are not body related. Challenge those thoughts instead of giving into them.
- Avoid Body Chats
Stop engaging in conversations where you feel the need to talk negatively about yours or other people’s physical appearance. Change your language and remove the word fat from your vocabulary!
- Add more Conscious Movement
Find a type of exercise you enjoy and aim to re-frame your thinking in a way that you are exercising because you love your body and want to be healthy instead for the sole purpose of losing weight and being skinny or muscular. Find joy in movement!
It is important to recognize and acknowledge when we might be engaging in negative body talk and realize that we do have the power to not engage in it.
Remember that positive self-talk gives us the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences instead of feeling like we are defined by them. We can’t get anywhere we want to go without learning how to support ourselves, and positive affirmations teach us how to show up and cheer for ourselves. Give your kids that gift!