The Contentment Series | How to cultivate body positivity in children
I want my daughter to know she is beautiful. Period.
The way she looks should have nothing to do with how she measures her worth.
You know who is responsible for cultivating this mindset in her? Me. The way I, her role model, talk to and about MYSELF. She watches my every move, and wants to be like me. I want more than anything for my girl to grow up content with her beauty because SHE believes that absolute truth, and that means I will speak about myself in positive terms, not degrading terms. I will learn to BELIEVE the truth about my image: That I am made in the image of Christ, and my identity is in him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and he has made me enough in every aspect of my life. The truth.
I'm not a size 2. I am not a size 6, or a 12 or a 22. Are you guessing my size now? It's normal...but why is that? My size is unimportant, because not only is every body type REAL, every body is a home, and that makes every single body absolutely precious. We were given a work of art to care for, an artwork made by God himself. I want my daughter to feel at home in her skin, right down to her bones. I also want her to treat her body with respect because I believe a human body is a home for the spirit of God.
I want to teach my daughter that food is amazing. God provided it to us and had a plan for it. He wants us to eat (in fact, several times in the New Testament we see Jesus give the instruction to eat, especially for people on whom he performed miracles). And get this: God has given us the ability to ENJOY it. Taste buds, people! I want my daughter (and my son too!) to have a healthy, satisfying relationship with food. It is fuel for our bodies, AND it tastes good. Those things can easily go hand-in-hand. Food gives us strength and delivers nutrients to our organs. It keeps all the other systems healthy. It was meant to be enjoyed. Food is not the enemy, although the real enemy wants us to think so.
So, here are three steps I will repeatedly take to teach my children body positivity and respect:
1. I will teach them that their bodies are a work of art, a home, and that their bodies are precious.
2. I will teach them that food is important for life and for keeping our bodies strong, and that it is also delicious.
3. Most importantly, I will model 1 and 2 in my own life, refraining from commenting on my own self-doubt.
I have no idea whether or not those three things will keep my children from feeling dissatisfied with their bodies. Advertisements and other role models in their lives may very well take care of that for me. But they're worth a shot at it.
I'm writing this down tonight because I've always struggled with body image and my relationship with food, and I want it to end with me. I refuse to pass this on to my daughter. Even before she was born, I committed to teaching myself how to have a healthy relationship with my body and its energy source simply so that she could believe it for herself too. I've come a long, long way, and I think it's time we all shift our mindset in the way we talk to ourselves. It won't just affect US, it will affect our future generations. I commit to empowering my daughter to see herself as enough, because Jesus made it so. Will you?
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