THE BLOG

We Can't Expect Our Kids To Love Their Bodies If We Don't

How do we teach our children that they're more than what they look like?

12/01/2017 4:09 PM AEDT | Updated 12/01/2017 4:10 PM AEDT
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter

Bridget Wood
Bridget, aged 12, on a beach in Margaret River, Western Australia.

Long skinny legs, boyish frame and shoulders great for hanging clothes... what's not to love?

Everything, when you are 12 years old and surrounded by friends with boobs, boyfriends and clear skin and magazines that tell you you'll be perfect when you have this outfit, hair colour or eye shadow.

I'm not looking at the camera because I am so ashamed of my acne, my skin like a canvas illustrating my own self-loathing, pale skin contrasted with flaming red, hinting at its pain. What you don't see in the photo are my younger cousins playing freely, giggling and squealing, seemingly immune to my teenage surliness -- free to be themselves much like my own children are now.

When does it change? What is that critical point that we need to be aware of so our kids can do it differently? And should we want that for them? Or is the pain a portal to consciousness, albeit a brutal one?

How do we tell our children to embrace who they are, that they are perfect, when we can barely utter those words to ourselves?

Thirty to 50 percent of girls aged 5-12 are worried about their weight. This is not part of our biological evolution -- it's a result of growing up amid a barrage of media and sociological norms that tell us we are not enough as we are. We are being programmed by up to 30,000 messages a day that dull our authentic voice and replace it with 'should's' and 'have to's' and comparisons that become all-consuming.

What would it be like to be a teenager in these times, I wonder?

How do we tell our children to embrace who they are, that they are perfect, when we can barely utter those words to ourselves?

Clarissa Leahy via Getty Images
Thirty to 50 percent of girls aged 5-12 are worried about their weight.

I don't have the answer, but I know it begins with me. My daughter will teach me all of my unresolved body and image issues, her pain calling me to face my own and heal it. But what if there was another way?

Yes she might be skinny, but she is also strong. Her red hair will make her different, but that's also what makes her interesting. Her pale skin won't tan, but it will teach her to take care of herself.

And all this leads us to the truth. We are so much more than what our bodies look like.

We are the way our eyes twinkle when we're talking with someone we love. We are the experiences that make our heart swell with grace, the knowledge that makes us be of service to others.

We are the sum of all our days before now that give us the unique ability to change the story if we want to.

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement