Taryn Brumfitt is the founder of the Body Image Movement and has blogged for the Be Real Campaign.
Let’s face it we live in a world where entire industries exist to exploit our insecurities and profit from us feeling bad about ourselves. We’re constantly bombarded by their message: “Be anything other than what you are.”
It’s horrible and harmful and, as adults, we’ve all had to come to terms with it one way or another. What about our kids? They’re getting bombarded by that same message and not just “out there” in the world.
I am the founder of the Body Image Movement, but I am also a parent of three kids.
And I know, like you, that children are like sponges, absorbing everything we say and do, well, except for “Brush your teeth,” and “Clean your room.” So when we say, “I can’t eat that because I’m on a diet” or “I look so fat in that picture,” our children are watching and listening and also picking up on the negative messages we’re inevitably sending (whether we mean to or not). And if they absorb even a little of that negativity – which they will – it can have a negative impact on the way they see themselves and on their own relationships with their bodies.
So how do we armour our children and help protect them from absorbing unrealistic expectations and unattainable ideals of beauty? First, we have to start with ourselves! Which is one of the reasons I made the documentary, EMBRACE; to help counter all those horrible and harmful messages we’re being bombarded with every day.
And then, for our children:
- Place less emphasis on how they look and more importance on their skills and talents. Help your children develop a value system that is built on who he or she is rather than what they look like.
- Be mindful of your language. Negative talk or judgments about yourself and others can quickly become a part of your child’s language, vocabulary and worldview. Human beings come in all shapes, sizes and abilities and that’s something to be celebrated not ridiculed.
- Ban diet talk and, instead, focus on health, which is unique to each person and isn’t just physical, it’s mental, emotional and spiritual too!
- Throw those scales away! Weight isn’t indicative of health nor does it define someone’s worth or value in the world.
- Engage in fun, physical activities with your kids and you’ll inspire your children to move their bodies for pleasure, not punishment!
Teach your children their bodies are not ornaments but the vehicles to their dreams.
As parents, we don’t always get things right and we make plenty of mistakes along the way. But if we make a commitment to love and embrace our own bodies then maybe, just maybe, our kids will learn to love and embrace theirs. And isn’t that a much better message for them to absorb!
Taryn's documentary, Embrace, is now screening in cinemas across the UK courtesy of Demand.Film