I am questioning my role as a parent and how I teach self-love to my children. If I start another New Year’s Resolution “healthy lifestyle change”, am I buying into the idea that a regular person’s body is inadequate and not worthy to be loved?
Children and teens are influenced by what they see on tv and in social media, and aspire to achieve what they see. While some youth are seeking to obtain the perfect IG or supermodel figure, others are striving to earn the cover of the next muscle and fitness magazine. In theory youth understand media bodies are contoured and photoshopped for maximum marketing value, but the images can have an effect on a child’s self-esteem. Although they understand the images are unobtainable, this does not remove the feelings of inadequacy for not having a "perfect" body. If I start another "new year new me" New Year's resolution for 2022, in hopes of finally reaching a goal that has been unobtainable for over 25 years now, how will that affect my children?
One of the most common goals for New Year's resolutions is changing our appearance in a drastic way. The changing appearance goal has been rebranded as a health goal. But if we can be honest for a moment, let’s admit that popular culture is not worried about the health of every body type. If you look a certain way, you are perceived as healthy. It is not a coincidence that the wellness industry is offering free trial subscriptions for their services right now with images of physically altered people prancing around "before and after" pictures. So if I start another “lifestyle change,” am I buying into the idea that my body must be altered in order to be accepted? Does my behavior teach my children that they also need to change themselves to be accepted in society?
Well, I am not buying it anymore. And when I say I am not buying it, I am literally NOT buying it. I am not purchasing any lifestyle changes that are fueled by my feelings of inadequacy. If you are asking me why this is a big deal, it is because I must set a good example for my children. I do not want my children adopting a culture of self-hate and equating their self-worth to their appearance.
I cannot teach my children confidence, self-love, embracing who they authentically are if I do not practice it myself. It's more than what I say, my children will remember how I act. Because actions speak louder than words, and children mirror what they see, I want my children to see me loving myself, confident in my imperfections.
My children will look online and on tv and consume images of people with sculpted muscles and toned abs and think that is what a "healthy" person looks like. They might assume that the imperfect body is an unhealthy body and an unloveable body. To combat this assumption, I must show them at home that an imperfect body is also a healthy body, and a loveable body. We are not changing anything, because we are already perfect. We will continue to eat the rainbow with gusto, embrace joyful movement every chance we get, practice mindfulness, and explore our vast imaginations through the world of books.
Most of all, we will resolve to embrace and love our imperfections and our authentic selves. Cause to quote RuPaul, “if you can’t love yourself”…well, you know the rest.