‘The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size’. The Oxford Dictionary
We have had some fabulous summer weather recently and it’s also holiday season (I’m just back from mine.) I’m noticing how easy it is to get into the habit of making comments about other people’s bodies, when we’re wearing less and spending time on the beach, and in less clothes. You know what I mean.. if we see someone who shouldn’t really be in a bikini, or who has a disproportionate body, or maybe it’s someone who seems to have the perfect body… and we’re jealous of them. We feel bad about ourselves and promise to spend more time working out (I’ve done this!). It’s just so easy to pass judgement. And even if we don’t say anything out loud, or we whisper it to another adult and not let our children hear it, to even think it, is also not a good practice. Any kind of judgement of others is a really negative critical thing. After all who are we to judge someone else. We don’t know what is going on in their lives or what they’ve been through. We are all so different; shapes, sizes, skin type, coloring. As my Grandmother used to say ‘If we all had the makings of ourselves, we’d be perfect!’
What’s even worse is online comments being made on social media about other people. It’s so easy to hide behind a phone or computer and judge others. It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity that’s involved, or a group of teenagers having a laugh, sharing photos and making comments, it all amounts to the same thing and it can cause real hurt and serious damage to someone.
I would love to start a movement where we help each other to realize that we don’t need to be constantly judging ourselves and others or passing comment (even if its just in our heads).. We are all imperfect. Here are my rules for teaching our kids to have a healthy body image.
Lets teach our kids and teens:
- No one is perfect – glossy magazines and adverts are not real they are air brushed.
- There are things we can’t change (for example the color of our eyes, our height, a disability) and we need to accept and love ourselves entirely.
- There are things that we can change – if we are not happy with our weight or body we can take action, become fitter, healthier and lose excess weight. (Here is a link to the NHS website giving tips to Parents with overweight children). Or we can gain weight in a healthy way if need be also.
- Some people may be physically more attractive than us, or have better skin, hair, prettier face, but true beauty comes from within a person. We all know people who allow their personality to shine through and be happy, friendly, funny or kind – to truly be themselves, and that is the most attractive person of all. The person we want to be around the most.
- We can all do things to make ourselves feel better, for example, when we dress up for a special occasion and make an effort – we know we can look beautiful. It all depends how important it is to you to look good. You have to decide how much time and money you want to put into looking good. There should be a healthy balance of caring about how we present ourselves and not being totally self obsessed.
- We should not judge or be critical of other people in any way. Accept that we are all different and we all have our strengths and weaknesses. One of my children recently pointed out a person that was very heavy in a bikini on holiday, so I whispered ‘You don’t know what they’ve been through maybe they’ve just lost lots of weight and they’re delighted to fit into a bikini… maybe they’re still working on losing weight we don’t know, so don’t make comments or stare it could be very upsetting for them’.
- Sometimes the person who appears most perfect has the most insecurities, so try not to be jealous we don’t know what is going on in their head. It may have taken a lot of work to ‘appear’ to be perfect, but remember there is really no such thing!
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2 thoughts on “Teaching our Kids about Body Shaming”
In relation to point number 6 – perhaps the person in the bikini was just happy in her own skin, happy to be in a bikini enjoying the sun. She doesn’t have to be in a process of losing weight to be in a bikini!!
Otherwise, I would agree with what you say – cultivate being non-judgemental all across your life! It’s much better for our own mental health to regard others neutrally!!
I found this so insightful. I’ve recently begun to notice how it seems to be very common for young women these days to be very self-conscious. I find this to be particularly true for good looking women. I believe this is because we often tell girls how gorgeous they are and even though this may seem like a positive thing to do, it can lead them to believe that looks are more important than they are. Articles like this really bring awareness of this issue to parents/teachers/family members who have a massive influence on kids.