Sunday, September 2, 2012

Beautiful Daughter

This is my beautiful wonderful baby girl Zoey. She is two and a half years old and she is such a wonderful part of my life. I am writing this post about her to bring attention to how we should be striving to influence our next generation of women to have a positive self image.

My Zoey is full of spirit, spunk, sass, smarts, sweetness and love. She is the most independent little girl I have ever encountered in my life. She has such a loving spirit that if anyone around her is upset she will do whatever she can to kiss and make them better. I love all of my daughters wonderful qualities and I will always strive to raise her in a way that celebrates every aspect of who she is.

In our society women are constantly bombarded with messages of "You're not good enough" and frankly I'm sick of it. My business is based on looking, feeling and being beautiful INSIDE and out (I will write more about this later). Beauty is not only about just looking your best but being your best too. 

All you have to do is turn on a reality show and women are celebrated for being stupid, wild and sexy. This is not how I intend to raise my child. I want my daughter to know that she is special and beautiful no matter what anyone else on earth might say. If we raise the future generations of women to love themselves than maybe they wont feel inclined to tear others down.

The article 15 Tips for Raising Kids With a Positive Body Image by Baby Dust Diaries has amazing tips for teaching your children how to love themselves. Here are the tips they share in the article.

  1. Never use the word fat in a derogatory way.  Avoid media that does.
  2. Never imply that you can’t do something or wear something because of your size (“oh, not with these thighs!”)
  3. Never compliment others based on size(how many times is “you look so thin!” the ultimate compliment?)
  4. Point out the beauty of diversity in people and nature – nurture the idea that beauty is diversity.  I love to say “what would the word be if all the flowers looked the same?”
  5. Avoid making physical activity about size or based on what you ate(“I have to jog off that cake”).  Physical activity should be joyful.
  6. Do not label foods as “good” and “bad”
  7. Offer a variety of foods and model moderate indulgence and a wide consumption of foods. Eating should be joyful.
  8. Don’t make your kids eat if they say they aren’t hungry1.  The refrain “finish your dinner!” should be stricken from the mommy lexicon.  Better to let them trust their bodies than feel guilt about wasting food.
  9. Don’t deny your kids food if they say they are hungry.  Another area where we often ignore our kids opinions and feelings.  Try to make your pantry a “yes” pantry with a variety of healthy options that your kids can eat when they want.
  10. Never comment on the amount (too little or too much) that your kids eat.
  11. NEVER use food as a reward, incentive, or punishment!  (this is SO abused among parents!!)
  12. Guard your children against negative body-image media – stop your subscriptions to women’s mags, don’t watch Biggest Loser, Toddler and Tiaras (focusing on appearance), and any variety of shows promoting appearance as a route to happiness.
  13. Avoid talking about a nutrionalist approach to food – disassembling “food” into fat, carbs, calories, and other things that need to be obsessed about and counted (difficult since it is explicitly taught in many schools).
  14. Encourage alternative means of self-esteem besides appearance – spirituality, values, empathy, effort, etc.
  15. Volunteer!  It is much harder to think of something so superficial as size in the face of true plight.

I love all the tips shared above and I refer to them often. I also LOVE this scene from the movie "The Help". Every little girl should be celebrated for 
her positive attributes. We should refrain from pointing out flaws and encouraging the self doubts our children might feel. If I'm talking about my daughter to someone else and she is within ear shot I always make it a point to only talk about the things I love about her. I try to never say anything negative. I would hate to make her feel self conscious or insecure.

We always need be aware of what we are saying about others and ourselves in front of our children. Are we constantly calling ourselves fat? Are we always obsessing about our appearance? Do we talk about other peoples size? Do we talk negative about other peoples appearances? Just because we are not talking directly to our children doesn't mean they aren't listening. We should always think "How would I feel if my child was saying these things?". The best practice to follow is the oldest rule and one we repeat over and over to our children... If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. All the Negative things we say about ourselves and about others our children will internalize. They may even begin to think these negative things about others and worst of all about themselves. They may also begin to wonder if you are feeling these negative things about them. If you want to encourage a positive self image in your child remember to speak kindly of yourself and other and stop dwelling on appearances.

My Zoey is extremely small for her age and EVERYONE likes to point out that fact. I have learned that there is nothing I can do about this fact. She is "Tiny" as everyone says and people will continue to point that fact out to us. So instead of making her feel sad about being "Tiny" we have been embracing it. When someone says to us "Wow she is Tiny!" I reply "Yup and she is so smart". Often times I'll ask Zoey "Are you big girl?" and she will answer very enthusiastically "Yup and I'm tiny". She knows she is smart and very capable like a "Big Girl" but she is also proud that she is "Tiny Zoey". I will always encourage her to embrace who she is. I was extremely insecure as a little girl and I will do everything in my power to help my daughter be proud of who she is inside and out. She is Beautiful to the core and I will always remind her of that.

I would love to hear what you have to say as well. Please share your feelings and words of advice.

Thank you for reading and I can't wait to hear your feedback.

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