You Are The Key To Their Body Image

The other day I paid a long overdue visit to the dermatologist.  As a runner who absorbs sun like it is going out of style, it is important to not only take care of your skin but also to get it checked out from time to time.  Luckily for me, one of my childhood friends is an awesome dermatologist in the Chicagoland area.  Thanks Jessica at The Derm!

While I was filling out paper work in the waiting room they had a TV showing various segments from the news where their doctors have appeared.  I heard a quote that really stuck with me and made me tune in to hear more.  “Our body image has a direct impact on our children’s body image.”  While she was discussing how children come to her to fix “flaws,” this resonated deeply with me on a different level.

As a former competitive figure skater, body image was always at the forefront of my mind.  I was constantly worried about being lean and was encouraged by coaches and judges to maintain that “physique.”  One can only imagine how this can easily become an obsession.  I was always concerned with being “fat” and worked out mostly just to stay lean.  What an awful way to look at yourself.  I didn’t value my body as an athlete and the power it provided me.

I hate the years I wasted worrying about how I looked.  I can’t even begin to recall the countless times I would see a past picture of myself and think that I looked good then and assume that I was bigger now.  And I know that I was not alone with this thinking.  I have gone on many group runs with women of all ages and they all tell me that they felt this way at some point in their lives.

I am so incredibly grateful for everything that running has provided me.  Instead of fueling the fire of that obsession to be thin, I began to really appreciate the power my body had.  I ate healthy to continue to improve in my sport. But I also enjoyed my post long run feasts.  I throw caution to the wind at times and enjoy a slice of pizza (or the whole thing), or a delicious dessert just for the heck of it.  And I love that my night before a long run dinner involves burgers and fries!

Beautiful

As a mother of a young girl, I want her to grow up as strong and confident as she possibly can.  I know that there will be moments when she feels weak and I can’t protect her from the difficulties of life.  But one thing I can do, is be the most positive example of a healthy body image I possibly can.  I know that I will be her role model as well as her source of embarrassment and annoyance.  And I can handle all of that.

Her strength begins with me loving myself.  I have learned a lot over the years.  There is no ideal perfect body.  Toe the line at any race and you will see that.  I have watched the woman in a sports bra with six pack abs take off and assumed she was the one to beat, only to cruise past her in the first mile.  I’ve watched powerful legs fly by me and leave me in their dust.

As a mother runner, I want my child to know that I run because I enjoy it and it makes me feel strong and happy.  I like myself for who I am and know that our bodies are constantly changing.  I plan to make a concerted effort to not discuss my “flaws” or comment if I am feeling off.  Even now, while my baby might not understand what I am saying, I work at avoiding that negative self-talk.  I strive to be healthy and the best runner, mother and coach I possibly can be.

Our vacation was a test at this confidence.  While I might not feel like I am back to my pre-baby level of fitness, I wore my old swim suits and swam with my family in the pool and the ocean.  I want her to see pictures of us and never question why mom didn’t get in the pool or spent her time covered up.  And you know what?  I feel good about that.  It is freeing and we had a great time.

Pool2

This pic melts my heart and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  Our little girl LOVES swimming.

There is beauty and power all around us.  I truly believe we are the first line in our children’s confidence both inside and out.

I absolutely love this post and encourage you to check it out:  How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her Body

What are your goals as a parent or role model?

 

18 thoughts on “You Are The Key To Their Body Image

  1. I hope that I can get to your state of mind about my body by the time I have kids. Even though my mother always compliments my looks, it drives me nuts that it’s ALWAYS about the way I look and I have no doubt that’s part of the reason I get so dismayed with my looks from time to time.

    • I completely understand. And you know now that it doesn’t work that way. You will be great when the time comes. Confidence comes over time and I truly believe that becoming a parent gives you a whole new perspective on what is important and what you should just let go.

  2. Getting to the point of realizing that “I am enough”, and striving for health rather than ‘thinness’, and understanding that your self worth isn’t defined by how flat your abs are or your clothing size or … well, it is hard.

    But as you say, it is important. And it is important to try to understand the ways that we can allow negative self-talk of all types to creep into our lives and minds. I was very lucky to have Lisa as someone who would call me on stuff and allow me to open up from the very beginning, so that I could see how certain things from my childhood played out into my adult life … and deal with them before they came through into my kids.

    • Oh, Lisa must know Rock ;). He called me out on many things are showed me how ridiculous and selfish my feelings were. There are far bigger things to worry about in life. Having a healthy relationship like that is a blessing. I always have admired your relationship and how lovingly you speak of your wife. You two are quite the team.

  3. Your little girl is lucky to have you as a Mom and role model! My Mom was the same – and a runner – never talked about diets, body-shamed herself, had “bad” foods, wasn’t afraid to get into a bikini – and that helped insulate me from the worst of body-hating. The depressing part is that it is so culturally ingrained that those feelings of not being the right shape/weight/height/whatever still surfaced when I was a teenager.

  4. Yours is a tough point to argue against, though I won’t lie…. every time I read a post like this, my mind drifts to the image of a 250+ pound woman in her g-string over the tights workout outfit walking down the aisle at the grocery store… She was a bit too okay with that body. It was gnarly.

    On the other hand, when I think I look my best I’m usually 15 pounds under weight and two years later, when I see photos of myself, all I can think is how in God’s name did I think THAT was good?!

    I think what I would like to pass on to my daughter would be honesty. Don’t be proud of fat, and by “fat” I mean overweight or obesity, but don’t fret a few pounds either. Make sense?

    By the way, being a happily married man, I know how this works… If there are two ways to take what I just wrote, a good way and a bad way, I meant the good one. 😉

    • That last part made me laugh out loud. You are a smart man! I totally understand what you are saying. I do believe it is very, very rare for women to be that okay with their bodies. Most are overly critical. It certainly is about balance. I just hope can promote confidence in a healthy way 🙂

  5. I love this. I think about it a lot–how to find the balance? I want my children to be happy, but also healthy. How do you make it about health and wellness and not looks in a society that focuses on the outside?

  6. You are a wonderful mom!! I’m still working on accepting my postpartum body, but I’m working very hard at loving myself because I want my daughter to see that. We will never have “far talk” or negative self talk in our house.

    • You’re a great mom too. I have moments where I am happy and moments where I am critical but tonight I had a moment where I was so proud of how much I have gone through. Being aware and conscious of actions is the best start. And by the way, I think you look amazing!

  7. Having grown up in a family that was mostly overweight with a mother who was constantly dieting, I definitely felt the pressure. And I don’t think it was direct pressure from my mom – I was a skinny kid who was very self-conscious and I put pressure on myself to not end up like the rest of them but her constant dieting did portray her unhappiness with herself and that thin was better than fat. Add in a high achiever and a control freak and I set myself up for an eating disorder through my teens and 20’s as I gained natural weight through puberty and hit the freshman 15 in university. While I’ll never be as “skinny” as I think I should be, I am “normal” and have become comfortable with the fact that I am now athletic and strong. At 36 now, I have a healthier relationship with my body and food and my husband reminds me to appreciate what it can do vs. what it looks like. I now have a new niece and I see my sister struggling with her weight as my mother did. I hope that I can be a healthy and positive role model for my niece so that she does not doubt herself and abilities like I did for so long. I think the fact that you recognize it now will go a long way in showing your daughter to love who she is when you love who you are.

    • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing! I think out parent’s relationships with food and body image affect us whether they mean to or not. I love that you have evolved and see the difference. Thank you so much for sharing!

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