Sidenote: I ADORE THIS PICTURE.
None of us want our children to grow up up with body image issues. All of us want our children to believe that what’s inside is what really counts. These are easy concepts – in theory.
In practice – it’s a little harder. I do what I can not to talk about my insecurities around my children, but I’m certain they feel it. I try to compliment them on their strength or their intelligence, but I often also tell they they look pretty and handsome. I don’t ever talk about losing weight around them. I repeat 1,000 times a day that I’d rather them be kind than pretty. This is the easy part.
The hard part is what to say in those moments. Those moments we all have when our kids say something that hurts our feelings, something about our appearance. We all have the stories. Your child called you fat. Your child made fun of your wrinkles. Your child laughed at your zits. Something that – of course – was innocent in their young minds. But in our jaded and insecure minds? Something that hurt. Those moments probably teach the most important lessons…and I swear on all that is holy, I think I fail every time.
I had two just last week and I thought I’d share them with you. I’d love to hear, how would YOU react? How would you turn those moments into a valuable lesson that includes the idea that A) Appearances are not the most important part of someone BUT… B) Slights on appearance will definitely hurt someone’s feelings.
It’s a fine line. “It’s what’s inside that counts!/But don’t insult my outside because it upsets me!” OR “It’s more important to be healthy than skinny!/But don’t call me fat because it makes me sad!”
Incident 1 – I was holding Wes on my hip the other night in the lobby of a performance we were attending. He patted my stomach and said, “Why is your belly so fat?”
Incident 2 – Nikki was with me in the dressing room when I was trying on clothes. First she said, “When you take the shirts off, why does your fat belly wobble so much?” And then she got very grossed out when she noticed all of the stretched marks on my hips, “What are THOSE?” with the lovely disgusted expression on her face.
I think I handled both moments okay. Not great, because it’s hard. I usually like to eventually divert the attention and say something like, “Who cares about that flabby belly…DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY MILES I CAN RUN?” But, in the moment, sometimes it’s hard to do that successfully without making it really obvious your feelings are a tad hurt.
I’m just curious, how would you handle those moments? How would you turn them into lessons about both A) Positive body image and B) Consideration when commenting on another person’s appearance.