Unlike those mutant freaks at Victoria’s Secret who pop out a baby backstage and then walk the runway in wings and a smile three minutes later, my figure did not instantly snap back to its prenatal shape. It took me a long time and A LOT of hard work to lose all of my baby weight from William and I am still carrying 20 pounds of baby weight from Ryan. And Ryan is in kindergarten. This is not good.
A few months ago I decided that enough was enough and got serious about buckling down and losing weight. I soon started seeing slow and steady progress on the scale and how my clothes fit, but being the Type-A super nerd that I am, slow and steady wasn’t cutting it. I am not proud of myself, but I started to look into some quick-fix solutions or anything that might speed up the hard work I was already doing.
In the course of researching various diet pills and supplements, I stumbled across something altogether different and exponentially more disturbing. Because I am the mother of two boys, I had never considered how a child’s body image begins at home. Make no mistake – boys are not immune to an unhealthy self-image or disordered eating. The fact is that boys simply are not affected in the same way as girls are by the onslaught of images and ideals to which they are exposed at home, at school, and all over the media.
My friend Kara is the daughter of a successful fashion model from the 1960s. Kara has a gorgeous figure (even after three 10-pound babies!), she has a healthy lifestyle, and she has always seemed sensible about food. She’s the friend who will order wine and dessert with dinner, and she’ll enjoy both without spending 20 minutes explaining how she hasn’t eaten all day and how she’ll starve the next day to make up for it. I called Kara to talk about what I’d read. I was astounded to hear her agreement. Despite the fact that Kara wears a size 6-8 and weighs just about 10 pounds more than she did in high school, she says that growing up with a woman who made a living from her looks was devastating.
“Look,” Kara said. “My mom is tiny like Audrey Hepburn and has eaten a hard boiled egg for breakfast every morning of her life. Getting ‘crazy’ for her is milk in her coffee and I’ve never seen her enjoy a meal.” Kara went on to say that it took years of living on her own to accept that it is not a bad thing to actually derive pleasure from a meal, and for her to accept that she just isn’t built like her mom. She works hard to balance the occasional indulgences with more moderation, but she has to be vigilant not to “punish” herself after treats. Kara’s daughter, Finley, is just now turning two, but my sweet friend is already worried about how to present a healthy, whole and sane body image to her little girl. “It’s a little nuts,” said Kara. “I never even thought about this crap with my boys. They just ate what I put in front of them, I made sure to go easy on the Happy Meals, and that was that. With Finley, I’m already panicked.”
To read more, take a look at http://www.womenshealth.gov/body-image/kids/
I’m interested to hear from all of you – especially the mother of girls – about your own experiences growing up. Do you have a positive body image? How much of your body image do you honestly think you attribute to what you saw at home? What do you plan to do differently with your girls?
More in a few days,