The other day my seven year daughter said to me ‘Mummy how come your stomach is sticking out?” Kids are great with all sorts of little gems that can put us on the spot. Gently I replied to her “ My tummy is curved because women’s tummies are made that way and I love my belly because it was able to grow and grow when I had you inside of me”.
Body shaming can start at a very early age. It can develop directly by the messages we tell our children about their bodies or indirectly by what we say about our own such as “I really need to lose weight for summer” or about other people’s bodies for example “ Wow your teacher could do to lose some weight”. Studies have shown that all of these types of body talk put children at higher risk of body dissatisfaction, lower self-worth and cause higher rates of dangerous weight controlling behaviours.
My daughter and I are different body shapes as we have differing genetic make-up. In school photos I was always seated in the row of the smaller ones and she stands as a taller child. Body diversity is an amazing thing.
So how to do we create a body positive family environment?
Be mindful of your own thoughts and talk about your body.
Talk to your children about how bodies work, not about weight or shape.
Talk to them about the amazing things their bodies can do like climb a tree, swing on the monkey bars, kick a ball etc
Teach them about kindness and self-compassion.
Talk to them about the wonderful soul that you love that lives in their body.