Yesterday, I published a post about the female body, following an article published in a magazine that talked about how nowadays we are celebrating the female curves and being ‘beach body ready’ doesn’t mean that you have to diet. Here’s the link to my post:
Lots of people have made some really interesting comments about it. One that really resonated with me was a lady who talked about how she is trying to ensure that her children don’t grow up with hang ups about their bodies: “If anyone talks about ‘bikini bodies’ in front of my daughters, I will have words”, she says in her comments.
This got me thinking about how I approach this issue with my four daughters. My step daughter and therefore unfortunately for her, my guinea pig to raising teenage girls, never seemed to talk about dieting. She always appeared to have a healthy approach to eating, whilst of course still shoving all the usual crap down her neck, from time to time. Her weight, fitness and strength was never a point of conversation, as she trained hard at her Taekwon-do. I didn’t really have any need to give body image issues a thought.
This year, daughters 1 and 2 are going on holiday with friends. Since January, daughter 1 has been on a healthy eating diet, which, to be honest, has been a bit of a faff. I’ve tried to accommodate her requests for this and that, but it can be a pain in a big family. Now that their holidays are fast approaching, both daughters are talking about dieting. Now, I’ll be honest, until I read the lady’s comment yesterday, I didn’t give their talk of diets a great deal of thought, other than: oh god, more faff! I also thought to myself: well, we can all go on a diet then. Generally, I don’t really diet. I have always talked to the girls about healthy eating and a balanced approach to their food consumption. I do know that I am a role model to them and always try to lead by example. I don’t get hung up about the way I look and my cupboard isn’t full of out of date packets of Weight Watchers food or nutritional shakes that are gathering dust.
A few days ago daughter 3 made the comment to me that someone had said that she has a six pack. She was made up about it. She loves her sports and this is one of the ultimate prizes for an athlete. Then I read the lady’s comments in response to my post, in which she also makes the point that our bodies are not for show. This lady’s attitude in her thoughts seemed so balanced, it made me question how I should be responding to my daughters when they talk about their body image. The weight of responsibility feels so huge.
My thoughts then extended to my Ladies’ Taekwon-do class, in which I make motivational comments through grueling exercises like: come on ladies, not long until we’ll be getting in to our bikinis! I suddenly found myself questioning whether this is perhaps the wrong thing to say? I work in the fitness industry. Part of my job is to get people fitter. It matters not what size or shape they are, my goal is to make them stronger. Yet by making the comment about the ‘bikini body’, am I projecting the wrong image? By accommodating my daughters’ dieting, am I feeding an obsession with their body image?
I think it is easy to over analyse. Because as parents we have such a huge responsibility on our shoulders, it is easy to worry too much. The problem is, we too are living in this world where we are surrounded by issues of diet, health and how we should look. This creates our own insecurities, which we must be so mindful not to pass on to our children.
Perhaps when we talk about being, ‘beach body ready’ we need to focus on our strength and our health. I’ve got to be honest with you though, having four daughters who are brought up in a tsunami of social media with its narcissistic obsession of self image, I feel as if I am being engulfed by the wave and am just trying to keep my head above the water.
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