I’ve see many posts about the importance of teaching young girls to have a positive body image. With all of the magazine covers, social media, and all of the things we watch on TV, there is plenty of of fuel for negativity to thrive. Our social standard for beauty in America is a bit twisted and realitively unattainable, even for the rich and famous. Once I found out I was having a boy the first time around, I was relieved. Thank goodness that was one thing I wasn’t going to have to deal with like girl moms do. Thank goodness I wasn’t going to have to worry about a daughter having an eating disorder or constantly worrying about her weight and appearance.
But later, after another pregnancy and getting back my body after breastfeeding stopped, I started to think much differently. Boys can have these same problems. Just because the statistics are much higher for girls, doesn’t mean my boys are exempt. I already see a perfectionist streak in Gav and it worries me. I know what that feels like and it’s not that fun. The urge to constantly be the best, or do everything, or be good at whatever you try can be exhausting. Part of that, at least for me, was in my appearance.
Part of me hesitates to write this because I do realize that I am not a big person. I’m short and have a realitivly small build but I can honestly tell you that that is not what I always see in the mirror. I can’t help it. I struggled with bulemia in college and that was a very hard place to be. I grew up in the dance studio where being thin is longed for and praised. I still struggle with it at times but never act on it. Having a positive body image is a constant battle for me but I’m getting there. Oddly enough, I’m the most confident in my body now, after two children. But what does this mean for my boys? I want them to learn two things from having a positive body image. One is the obvious. I want them to love themselves exactly the way God made them. For them to know that they were fearfully and wonderfully made. That they’re worth lies in the Lord, not some image that they feel they have to meet. I want the same things for my boys that girl moms want for their daughters. I want them to have self confidence, to own who they are.
To add to this though, I want them to see me as a woman who values herself. Who finds her own worth in the Lord, not some image I feel I have to meet. I want them to see a woman that respects her body and that a woman’s body is to be respected. It is why I don’t ever act on my negative thoughts. It’s why I pray for self control and courage. It’s why I eat as best as I can and stay active. I have to model this behavior for them as their mother. I know that I can’t shield them from ever feeling badly about how they look feeling doubtful about they’re appearance. Self consciousness is natural, especially in t hose oh so glamourous teenage years. Not to mention how grateful I am that I didn’t have to be a teenager when social media came about! (Seriously, thank goodness!).
As an adult, I have witnessed the negativity on multiple occasions. I watch my students at the dance studio complain that they are “fat”, when they’re clearly not, more times than I’d like to count. It breaks my heart, yet I know how they feel. I’ve seen girls go through feeling hurt when the boys they hang around with or once dated call them names or belittle them. Neither situation will be my boys. They will learn that all bodies are beautiful. That all bodies are on a journey. It’s that old cliche, be nice to everyone because you never know what they’re going through. I’m not naive to think that they will never have these feelings. I just pray that when they do, that I have set the example of positivity. That I have been an example of finding my worth in God and not the cover of a magazine or movie poster. I pray that they see that others are to be lifted up, not torn down and that each body is sacred, made in God’s image.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14