For most of us our body image is something we struggle with at some point (or several points, or all points) during our lifetime. If you’re one of the lucky people who has never struggled with this, I am in awe of you. Please tell me how your parents raised you to be like this so that I can do the same for my daughter!
To be honest, body image issues are not just solely a ‘woman’s’ issue anymore. All of the social and media influences and pressures that have built up on women over the years are increasingly impacting on men as well. More concerningly they are also impacting on children, young child, who should still be happily playing with dolls houses and building blocks.
For me I have long struggled with my body image. I’m your classic: ‘had issues as a teenager leading to an adult life of yo-yo dieting’. However, since having my first child, an interesting thing has happened. While I am considerably heavier than I was before I had my child, I’m much happier and more comfortable in my own skin now. Usually my happiness with my body goes up and down with my weight but now, while I would like to lose a bit of weight, it’s for me and my own comfort and health that I want to do it, and it is most certainly not the top of my priority list. My priority list these days looks something like this:
1. My daughter
2. My husband (he got bumped from the top spot the minute my daughter was conceived)
3. My health/fitness
4. My work
5. My friends/family
6. My cats (these poor guys have moved significantly down the list in the last few years)
7. My house (by necessity this has fallen way down the list, I’d go crazy if I tried to keep the house in the same condition I did pre child)
8. My weight
Having a child seems to put everything else into perspective, and dieting doesn’t make it anywhere near the top of my priority list anymore. My daughter is absolutely the top of my list, so being a good role model to her is far more important to me than fitting into a bikini will ever be. I want to role model healthy behaviours like enjoying exercise together, eating regular healthy meals and being comfortable in my own skin.
If my weight ever gets in the way of my number one priority, my daughter, then it will move up the list. If I ever get to a point that I can’t or wont run or swim with her or if my health is so severely affected that my life span is reduced, then I will absolutely move my weight up the priority list but for now, I’m okay with how I am.
My daughter and I at parkrun Hamilton which we attend most Saturdays before heading off to swimming lessons (she’s still a bit like a new born foul when it comes to running, hence the dirty knees as she’d just fallen over, but she got back up and kept running)
It’s also been really encouraging to see other people (women especially) embracing their bodies. While I can’t imagine ever having the confidence to do it I really, really, really loved (and appreciated and was in awe of) Meagan Kerr celebrating her body by modelling plus size lingerie in her blog recently.
It was also nice to see Julie Bhosale who showed us what a real postpartum body is like, and that for most people, we don’t bounce back into our pre-baby shape after 6 weeks (if you are lucky enough to be one of the few that do, own it! I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me ;-))
My challenge now is to raise a daughter who, while being constantly bombarded with photo-shopped images of what she should look like, loves herself and her body in spite of this. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them!