Hi friends! Happy Tuesday.
Drew + I had the pleasure of hosting my parents on Saturday night for the Badger basketball game and dinner. It was great to see them and spend time the four of us. BalancedAmes came up, and they are the sweetest blog parents I could ever ask for. My dad told us how one night he binge read the blog to catch up and only stopped when he came to this quote in one of the blog posts:
“Are you watching extra TV before bed instead of turning your mind and the lights off? Are you scrolling all the way down Instagram for an extra half hour? Are you on a bender of Homeland and need to watch just one more episode? ”
My mom reads every single blog post. It really isn’t surprising because I cannot remember a time that they weren’t supportive of a dream of mine, but it was still a sweet reminder 🙂 Big thanks to them and everyone that continues to read regularly.
You Get if from Your Momma
Speaking of parents, I recently read a Glamour article on the stair-master (your probably sensing a little bit of a theme here) entitled “Mothers, Daughters, and Bodies”. It was all about what influences our body image. A LOT of things contribute including: media, social media, and comments from everyone around us. Research has shown that a girl’s mother is perhaps the biggest factor of all:
- A girl that grows up with a mother that criticizes her body is more likely to dislike her body, or develop disordered eating or an eating disorder.
- Same if the mother comments on the daughter’s eating or tells her to eat less.
- Additionally, if a girl sees that her mother is constantly dieting herself or obsessed with her weight…the daughter starts to have those same tendencies. Zosia Mamet, the author of the article, gave the example of her mother being obsessed with low-fat, low-calorie foods. This rub off and influenced how she felt about food.
American women overwhelmingly have a negative body image. If we are going to change this fact, we need to change the way we raise our kiddos and speak about ourselves.
This article peaked my interest, and I began to think about my own childhood + find more articles about this topic + think about all the new little ladies around me that are about to be raised by my friends + sister.
It only seemed fitting to bring my mom on the blog. Both my mom and dad raised us in a household of positivity when it came to body image. In my experience, they never made any negative comments about what I ate or how I looked. When we grew older they always told us we were/are beautiful, and taught us to expect a lot from the men that would come into our lives (R-E-S-P-E-C-T when it came to body image + everything else). As a result, I’ve grown into a woman with a very healthy body image. Praise the Lord! I wanted to ask my mom how we got to this point.
Ames: Best tips for raising a girl to grow into a woman with a healthy body image?
Momma Kempen: 1 ) Listen to your child is my #1 tip. Be prepared to reinforce their confidence in all things. It is important for them to have healthy body image as well as a healthy minds and soul. 2) Educate yourself. I spent hours upon hours reading books and articles in magazines. Not just on parenting but also on how to raise your child/children to be successful, positive, and self confident. 3) Girls are especially vulnerable to body image. Society plays a huge role, as well as men’s perception of what a girl/women should look like. Magazines, television shows, and movies all feed into this vision of how the perfect women looks. News flash: nobody is perfect. So raise your child to know she/he is loved and respected no matter what!
Ames: One day I came home from school with my soul crushed. It is so vivid. A boy called me fat. I was in second grade. My mom was folding laundry and watching Oprah. I came in and told her what happened, asked her if I was fat, and then tears starting falling as she held me in her lap. She rocked me and told me that I was not fat. She told me that I couldn’t listen to boys, and he didn’t deserve my attention or tears (go mom! so right). I shared this story for 2 reasons: 1) We need to be very careful with our words, as negative ones have a big impact and have a tendency to stick with people. I could tell you that boy’s name to this day. I will spare him in hopes that he grew into a nice man. I hear adults saying mean and critical things to adults all the time. Careful with your words my friends. 2) As much as I remember the tears, I’m so thankful I had a mom that wouldn’t let me believe it. She didn’t say, well you could eat better or workout a little more.
Ames: I asked my mom if she remembered this day.
Momma: “Yes, sad to say I remember. Children can be so cruel to each other. I wish they knew how much words hurt. When your child is hurt, you hurt. My job as a mom was to love all my children, and make sure they loved themselves. Which includes positive body image and confidence in who they are.”
Ames: Krystle + I are much older than your youngest little darling Esther. We were raised before social media was around. Did it seem that social media impacted Esther and her friends’ body images?
Momma: “I feel that people who would have bullied others about body image just found another outlet for it. People are often not held accountable for the things they say on social media and have a tendency to hide behind screen names. Because they aren’t saying it to you in person, they tend to think they can say whatever they want.”
Ames: Very true. Thanks for coming on the blog mom! 🙂
Whether we have a daughter or a son, I want to make sure that we are breathing confidence into them and raising them in a healthy household. Avoiding the body image/confidence subject is not going to do the trick. That’s like avoiding the sex talk. I found this Mayo Clinic article which had the following suggestions for tackling these tough talks:
- Explain the effects of puberty. Make sure your daughter understands that weight gain is a normal part of her development, especially during puberty. (Ames: Yes! I hit puberty early and hard compared to my friends).
- Talk about media messages. Television programs, movies, music videos, websites, magazines and even some toys might send the message that only a certain body type is acceptable and that maintaining an attractive appearance is the most important goal. Check out what your daughter is reading or watching and discuss it. Encourage her to question what she sees and hears.
- Monitor Internet use. Teens use social networking sites and services to share pictures and receive feedback. Awareness of others’ judgments can make teens feel self-conscious about their looks. Set rules for your teen’s Internet use and talk about what she’s posting and viewing.
- Discuss self-image. Offer reassurance that healthy body shapes vary. Ask her what she likes about herself and explain what you like about her, too. Your acceptance and respect can help her build self-esteem and resilience.
- Use positive language. Rather than talking about “fat” and “thin,” encourage your daughter to focus on eating a healthy diet and staying physically active. Discourage family and friends from using hurtful nicknames and joking about people who are overweight.
Other points I wanted to add:
- Be a positive role model. Eat real food. Teach your children how to fuel their bodies. Offer healthy meals and snacks. Workout because it is healthy for you and not to “lose weight”. Your daily habits and routines are going to rub off on those little ones.
- You are going to have to be intentional. As I mentioned above, I have a healthy body image. Of course there are times (especially with this growing bump) that I’ve said to Drew, “do I look big today?” Some of these things just roll out of our mouths. It is going to take practice and self-awareness to not say these things in front of our kiddos.
- Do this for your girlfriends. You might not have littles right now, but I can probably guarantee that you have a friend that talks negatively about herself. I was recently around someone that referred to herself as a “fat lard.” AHHH! I said you cannot say that about yourself! Don’t engage in it, and try to be a healthy role model. Whenever I’m helping someone get on a better track, I always emphasize lifestyle and health vs. pounds or being a certain size.
- The cycle has to stop somewhere. There is nothing we can do about how you were raised and how great or not-so-great your mom was when it came to your body image. We can be the generation that makes sure not to continue this cycle of being so critical of our own bodies and raise women (and men) that love theirs.
I used to emphasize this point all the time, but you only get this one body. Don’t spend all your time hating it and wishing it were different. Embrace your uniqueness and treat it well 🙂