Let’s face it, the number of us concerned with our body image has never been higher than it is now. Many of us blame the increase in weight and body image issues on the media while others blame the diet and fitness industries. While I typically like to discuss which workouts are most effective and fun to fit into daily life, I am also a life coach and believe that loving and seeing yourself in a positive light is crucial to creating a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. However, it is also important to promote body positivity with your kids, and that can be difficult to do if you’re struggling with embracing it yourself.
We live in a society that sells image over substance nine times out of ten, and it is often commonplace to use shaming, exploitative, and manipulative advertising tactics as a form of motivation. If you always feel just bad enough about yourself, then you’re more likely to buy that miracle pill, cream, or service to look your “best.” Children also can be subjected to these messages and unfortunately have started showing signs of negative body image issues as early as the age of 8. According to a survey conducted by GirlGuiding UK in 2013, one in five primary school-age girls admitted they have been on a diet while 87% of girls aged 11-21 think that women are judged more on their appearance than their ability. At an age where young people should be developing their interests in school, culture, and how they view the world, they often neglect to cultivate a healthy view of themselves.
Although it may seem improbable in the current beauty-obsessed culture we live in to encourage children to love themselves unconditionally; I say it is not impossible.
I’m not suggesting that these tips will eradicate the larger body image issues we face as a society, but with these three suggestions, you can begin to take control of healthy living and body image within your household.
3 Ways You Can Promote Healthy Body Image To Your Kids
- Evaluate your relationship with body image, weight, and food. Do you eat a healthy diet? Do you have a healthy attitude towards you own body? Children learn by example and studies show that children who grow up with parents who makes derogatory statements about their diet and weight have a drastically increased risk of sharing that same mindset. One of the most effective ways to instill an attitude of self-acceptance in your child is to have one yourself. Adopt an attitude toward your body that you want your child to replicate.
- Encourage your child to known his or her strengths and what makes them unique and extraordinary. Have conversations about their world around them and ask them their opinion on subjects that don’t always involve their appearance or the appearance of others. Teach your children to value strengths beyond looks, such as kindness, mindfulness, and knowledge. You owe it to your kids to show them that there is more to life than meets the eye.
- Stop criticizing, envying, and judging other people based on their bodies, looks, beliefs, or diets. Kids already view hundreds of nasty “trolling” comments plastered all over social media on a daily basis — they don’t need more of that at home. We live in a society where complete strangers tear each other apart by making often rude, unsolicited comments regarding people’s appearances. These observations are not only horribly cruel, but they also serve no purpose. Lead by example when it comes to making statements about others. As the sayings go, “Admiring someone else’s beauty shouldn’t diminish your own” and “Saying someone is ugly doesn’t make you any prettier.” Choose to talk positively and substantially about others and your children will take notice.
While it often appears as though promotion of the unattainable beauty standard is here to stay, an exciting shift is taking place. In 2015, social media users fought for more acceptance of all body types, and it came at us with full force through popular hashtag campaigns such as #EffYourBeautyStandards and the #BoPo movement. These two hashtags prove that people do want to see more body diversity and that beauty can be about so much more than weight and outer appearance. Self-love is just as important a topic as any other subject your child learns so be sure to practice actively and embrace it with them.