How many of us with daughters and sons freak out when we hear them talking about trying to get skinny? I can imagine many of us. We don’t want to raise self-hating children, and we’ve been educated our whole lives to eschew the ideals supposedly dictated by the media around thinness. “You should be concerned with being healthy, not skinny,” we all say, right?
But let’s face it, when it comes to our own bodies, do we follow our own advice? Nope. Most of us are a bunch of hypocrites. We fret about and often compare our bodies with others. I get really disturbed at the thought of my daughter one day questioning her own beauty, and yet I catch myself talking to my husband about how bummed I am that I gained a couple of pounds with the kids sitting within ear shot.
A few days ago, the hypocrisy struck me in a powerful way. My good friend had a bunch of families over for a fantastic lunch. Once the kids dispersed and the husbands launched into a discussion of their own, one of the ladies around the table started up with being annoyed at her recent weight gain and how much she just ate. For the next hour we all lamented our own body weight “issues.” We acknowledged that we don’t want our children to talk the way we do, and any chance we get, we give them the “it’s better to be healthy over skinny” talk. But my friend told me that her girls respond with “yeah, yeah we know” and finish the lesson for her.
They’re on to us! Our heart-felt words are useless. They know we’re hypocrites. If they hear us talking about our bodies in derogatory ways, how can they ever truly absorb a healthier image? We think they can’t hear us but they DO. They pick on every spoken and unspoken move, sign, step and glance we give ourselves in the mirror.
It’s not enough to say the right words to our kids. We need to change our own mentality. I know that’s super hard, but it can start with changing the words we say to and about ourselves. I bet if we begin to “speak” positively about our own bodies we may not only affect our children for the better but we could actually change our own self-images too.