I don’t know about anyone else out there, but when I decided to be more body positive for the sake of my kids (in an effort to set a good example for them), I had no idea how hard it would actually be. It’s been a bit of a journey for me, but I’m learning there are things body positive women refuse to say around their kids, and the less I say these things to or around my children, the more I find my own view of myself, actually changing.
I love my mother to pieces, and she did a fantastic job of raising me on many levels and in many ways, but the complex relationship she has with her body image haunts me to this day. I first heard about her diets at a very young age and was, sadly, dieting by the time I was 12 years old. I binged and then dieted for all of my teenage years, and while I managed to get beyond that negative cycle in my early 20s, my challenges with perinatal anxiety and depression brought back many of those demons I had safely assumed I had left behind. I promised myself I would model body positivity for my kids, and I am working hard to keep that promise. It's tough, though, to avoid commenting about my current struggle with my weight in front of the kids. I believe it's incredibly important, however, for my son and daughter to enjoy resting on my currently "pillowy soft" belly, rather than listen to their mom hate on it. Their unabashed love of what I perceive to be an imperfect part of me, is also teaching me how much I have to learn about loving myself.
Which is why, while I am trying to teach my kids how to be more body positive, they're simultaneously (and unknowingly) teaching me how to be more body positive, too. It's just one of the many instances in which parents and children learn from one another, and I'm thankful that my efforts to be more body positive for my kids aren't just helping them grow up to love themselves, but helping me to continue to love myself, too.
So, with that in mind, here are nine things body positive women (or women who are desperately trying to be body positive) refuse to say in front of their kids:
"I Need To Lose Weight"
Being body positive doesn't mean that you have to accept your current body as it is, however, I can't underscore how important it is to avoid modeling behavior that encourages your kids to even think about dieting. Kids see their mom complaining about herself, and they assume that if mom isn't happy with herself, why should they be happy with themselves?
"I'm Avoiding [X] Food Right Now"
You may have a completely viable reason for avoiding certain foods, but if they have nothing to do with allergies, your kids are going to wonder why you're avoiding them. Believe it or not, you'll be inadvertently teaching them that they should be questioning their food choices, which they really shouldn't be doing at such a young age.
Referring To Body Parts By Using Cutesy Nicknames
Part of being body positive is embracing that bodies are normal and natural, including and especially parts of the body that our society has sexualized. Nicknaming certain body parts implies that there's something to be embarrassed about. Body positive parents understand that there's no reason to be embarrassed by your body, unless you have a really terrible tan line. I kid.
"Ugh, I'm Having A Fat Day"
I guarantee you, if you start talking about feeling fat, your kids will start wondering whether they're fat, too. They'll wonder how you can "feel" fat, and no child should be spending time thinking about feeling fat.
"Nothing Fits Anymore"
This is such a subtle thing, but think about it: your kid is constantly "not fitting into anything anymore," because they are growing. They don't see you growing, though, and you're complaining about the one thing that they're feeling on a regular basis. (I mean, seriously, how is it physically possible for kids to grow so fast?!) The possible takeaway for your kid hearing that you're not fitting into your clothes anymore, is that not fitting into their clothes is a bad thing and, well, who wants their kid to feel bad about growing?
"Oh Boy, I Really Need Makeup!"
Well, you actually don't need makeup. No one is going to point at you and laugh because you didn't put on mascara or bronzing powder or that subtle shade of red lipstick that you covet. That doesn't mean you're not allowed to want to wear makeup, and it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't wear it at all (because it's fun!), but the difference between needing and wanting is an important distinction to make, as a body positive parent.
"I Hate The Way This Outfit Makes Me Feel"
If you hate the way something makes you feel, stop wearing it. Again, this is the type of statement that can make kids wonder why something that seems innocuous in their eyes, is making you feel awful about yourself. The last thing you want is for your child to emulate those types of statements because they heard you saying them.
"Honey, Does This Make Me Look Fat?"
Please, just don't. Your kid will be wondering very quickly what "looking fat" means, and whether they fall into that category, or why that "category" is a bad thing to be a part of, in the first place.
"I Look Terrible"
I guarantee you, your child thinks you are pretty much perfect, so what do you think their thought process will be when they find out that their perfect mom hates how she looks? It doesn't fall on deaf ears, I can tell you that much.