I don't know where it's going!

 

We're already at the stage where 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds are body conscious. And it's not just our daughters, our sons are feeling it too.

 

Is it down to the fact that parents/older siblings/family members are constantly on diets? Trying to lose weight via 'skinny tea' or 'tablets'? What are we teaching our kids (asides from choosing the easy option when you want to achieve something)?

 

Whether we like it or not, kids are a product of their environment. The saying "Monkey see, Monkey do" comes to mind.

 

Over the summer, it was painfully obvious that our young were displaying clear signs of negative body image. Covering their tummies by folding their arms, refusing to take T-shirts off at the beach etc.

 

 

We're all guilty of it to a certain extent, so please know I'm not having a go. Quite the opposite actually.

 

When we were ten we weren't worrying about "fat bellies" or "thunder thighs". How much further is it going to go?

 

I want us to change the narrative.

 

The next time you feel like body-shaming yourself, think about your child. Think of the impact those words you're about to say to yourself, would have on them? They're listening to us whether we think it or not. If they hear their mother saying she has a fat belly or her legs are too big, they will think this is acceptable behaviour.

 

I have zero issues with people going to the gym or exercising etc. It's great for the mind and body so I'm all for it. But, instead of going to 'lose weight', go to make your body stronger. Your mind stronger. Change the language you use, because then you're changing the narrative.

 

 

We were lucky enough to grow up and develop in a society that didn't live its life online. Everything is accessible at the click of a button. Nasty comments and less than desirable characters are but one click away. It's our job as parents to instil positive values in our kids. It's the same thing as teaching our children that it's not OK to hit another person, or to call them names.

 

But think about it, if you are body-shaming yourself, it's a hard message to reinforce to your child when they're listening to it.

 

All bodies are good bodies. Always chose the positives. It's not just about the weight, by accepting ourselves and being confident in our own bodies, we are teaching our kids that as long as you're happy in your own skin that's all that matters. Don't waste one second on what people may or may not think about you.

 

Us mammies and daddies aren't perfect. Far from it. But if we make a conscious effort to change the narrative in our own homes, it might just change the narrative online, in our schools and on our streets.

 

 

You are not your body. You are not your imperfections. You are certainly not failing because your life isn't like strangers on the internet.

 

You are worthy. You are loved. You are funny. You are beautiful. You are enough.

 

If we succeed in this, I feel motherhood won't be as tough in 100 years. We'll have reared a positive generation.

 

Where labels don't matter.

 

Where we lift one another up, not tear each other down.

 

Where we can admire another's beauty and achievements without questioning our own.

 

Where people are confident in themselves and care less and less about others' views and opinions of them. Where being yourself will be normal and celebrated. I want my kids to live in an era like that. Don't you?

Jessica O’Neill, 26 year old Mama to two under two and author of My Moo and Roo Blog. Currently on maternity leave, winging motherhood everyday.

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