As the mom of three children under 8, I think a lot about what I'm doing to my kids when I say certain things, like certain things, do certain things. I want to have a positive influence on their lives. As the mom of two girls, I think a lot about body image. I read a lot about body image. I feel bad a lot about body image. But I've decided to stop... stop feeling bad about what those articles tell me to feel, that is.
I am overweight. I have too much fat, particularly in my stomach region, which is particularly unhealthy. And I'm not going to apologize anymore for saying that I am am fat and unhealthy in front of my kids when I need to eat better and I want them to eat better too. I'm not going to stop saying I should eat better, we should eat better. I'm not going to pretend that everyone is perfect how they are. Because they aren't and we shouldn't lie to our children.
This isn't because I'm beauty obsessed. I don't obsess about makeup, I don't wear it everyday and I don't care. I don't brush my hair everyday anymore and I don't care. I don't wear the last fashions or know what they are and I don't care. But I do know and care about this. There are so many articles that float through women's worlds about being perfect, being a perfect mom, and looking sexy. Then there is another batch of articles that spend time making women feel bad for wanting to be thinner, feeling better, being more healthy. They are all equally damaging and ridiculous.
If you are overweight, you should talk to your kids about being healthy. Ask for their help. Kids like being healthy and they like helping. Tell them they look beautiful. Tell them their body is perfect. Tell them when they're not making good food choices or being too lazy. Tell them a family walk is good for everyone. Tell them you want to live for a long, long time and you want to get in shape to do that. Tell them everyone, thin and fat, needs to care about what they eat. Tell them about good nutrition and exercising to feel calm and happy. Tell them that too much of anything is a bad thing, be that sugar or exercise. Tell them to be happy and smile and love and laugh. Show them themselves in the mirror and tell them how proud you are. Tell them their smile lights up the room and your heart and their hugs are the best presents in all sincerity. Let the know that kindness and thoughtfulness and giving make them beautiful. Tell them they are smart and can be smarter. Tell them that hard work is important for anything and everything. That some days it is hard work to smile and some days it is hard work to eat right and some days it is hard work to walk around the block and some days it is hard work to slow down and enjoy what they have and appreciate the sun, moon, stars, balloons, giggling, singing off key just because. But they need to do all of it.... with you.
I want my kids to be healthy as second nature. They should pick fruit over donuts and salad over french fries. Water is the best thing on the planet and soda is chemical poison. They should know that fat around your stomach is not good. They should know that mommy wants to set a good example, not to look "perfect" or "ideal" or unreal. Not because she doesn't like wrinkles or her nose or her boobs or her wardrobe, but because being healthy is important. And your kids should strive to be healthy and make smart choices with you, together, for a better life for the whole family.
Yeah, I want to be thinner and I'm going to tell my kids and ask for their help and I'm not going to feel bad about it anymore. They should know bread and sugar and white potatoes make mommy feel bad and make her body store fat. They should know that we eat free range meat, if we eat meat because we want the animals to live decent, humane lives, not in some freak-show processing sadness because it means more money for corporations. And they should know we buy free range dairy and eggs for these reasons too. And they should know vegetables and fruits are the basis of a healthy diet. They should know they can eat as much of these as they want and not be pressured to clean their plates or not ask for seconds. Both are okay. They should know that dessert is a treat but not a reward. They should know that food can help you from getting sick and it can make you sick. They should know that organic, pesticide-free foods that aren't processed are good choices. They should know these things as second nature so they don't obsess and don't feel the pressure we have been set up to feel. They'll just grow up healthy, making healthy choices and they won't fall into the food traps that have set us up for failure, that have made us fat and unhealthy. And then maybe they won't read those articles when they come through their feeds in Facebook, or whatever will be their source of information when they are moms.
There is nothing wrong with that. That's something to be proud of.