Who as a child has not taken part in the freedom of escaping the diaper change and running off wild with not a care in the world? From my mom’s recounts of my own childhood, to siblings and cousins and even friends parents reliving embarrassing stories about stark naked runners all have the same key idea; no shame or body issues. Shame and body image issues are things that are taught and observed, not something you are born with. Could you imagine as a child standing waiting for your bus in your neon tight biker shorts and tank top looking at your friend and asking “do these shorts make me look fat?” or avoiding playing because it would mess up your hair “sorry I can’t play ball with you, I just did my hair”; your probably laughing at the image right now because of how absurd the idea is. I cannot ever remember worrying about what I looked like as a child; I was too busy being a child! In most of my family’s pictures of me I am most certainly looking dishevelled but I also look like I’m having the time of my life and smiling from ear to ear in every picture. So at what age do we stop striping down because we are hot and want to run through a sprinkler butt naked or when is it decided that we have to worry about our weight and appearance? I am not an expert in child psychology, nor do I know the answer to that question, what I do know is that it is way too early and children are not coming up with it on their own. Could you imagine “OMG Janet is by far the fattest grade two there is, what is she wearing?”?
Children are incredible observers, they hear and absorb more than most people give them credit for. Simple learned habits that children pick up from people in their lives and with media being focused on the super thin and perfect it’s a scary fact that it is almost inevitable that children will grow up with insecurities. I’m not saying that we should all drop our clothes because we feel like it or become obese because we don’t care; I am however saying that moderation and self-love and not loathing are key ingredients. Teaching and demonstrating that beautiful isn’t a mould and that there is more to a person then the outer shell.
We need to realize that nobody is perfect, so to strive for constant perfection is like striving for constant failure. Your body is yours for life, so get used to it, yes be healthy and make smart choices, but do not fall a victim to pressures that set people up for failure and possible addictions and disorders. It breaks my heart when I hear a child make comments about their weight or being fat or teens talking about how they haven’t eaten all day on purpose because they want to lose weight. I have been a witness to amazing people falling victim to eaten disorders because of twisted views of being perfect getting out of control and that person ends up being lost to the disease that is far from pretty or perfect.
We cannot ever dream of trying to fix other peoples views until we fix ourselves and that is when I think we can take notes from babies and small children who have yet to be tainted by unrealistic standards. We need to not only take steps but giant leaps and bounds back to our earlier year views of ourselves. When is the last time you looked at yourself and were completely happy with what you saw? When is the last time you walked around naked or even were naked in front of another person without hiding in the dark? If we all had a person who followed us around all day with an airbrush then I would say sure your expectations to look like someone whose job is to always look like that and has been touched up by magazine editors is completely justifiable, but until then we need to step back and take stock in what’s real. To me and many others I have talked to about similar topics someone who is happy and smiling and secure is way more attractive then someone who is so done up that they are afraid to move and are obviously incredibly insecure with themselves.
Am I always super secure with myself, no, I have my bloated hormonal hard on me days like most people do. But do I starve myself, do I cut other people down to make me feel better or have unrealistic goals of how I should look? NO! I like who I am and I know that no one is perfect, I think that people’s imperfections are what makes them unique, we have all seen the movie step ford wives and that does not end well…, sure I feel like I could lose a few pounds, but I know I will never be a size zero, my love affair with food would never allow that… nor my 5’11 body frame.
Let’s make positive changes with our own views of ourselves and what beautiful is so that someone day there will be a generation of children who will never be upset about their being butter on their bagel or counting the calories of everything they eat and will never have to know what an eating disorder is. Take this lesson from the babes and learn to love you and everything about you.
Start by not caring if someone is watching you and have fun instead of trying to look like you’re having fun; as a child I never cared if someone was watching me, I was far too involved in whatever story I had created for myself in my make believe world.
Leave the house without make up, I promise there is not a force field preventing you from doing so.
Go one day without thinking a negative thought about your appearance, do it I dare you, see if you can.
Idolize someone for the person they are and not their perceived outward perfection.
Start by taking these baby steps in the shoes of babes and learn to unconditionally love yourself all over again, it’s a love affair you won’t want to miss.