Worth-reading Roundup: Kids and Body Image

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Kids running through grass

This Worth-reading Roundup is dedicated to parents, grandparents and anyone who has a kid in their life whom they love. I’ve got one article (for adults) and one podcast/story (for kids & adults). If you’re interested in other body image articles and resources, check out previous roundups here!

  1. 7 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body (via A Mighty Girl): Bookmark this article, email it to yourself, send it to everyone you love. There is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF in here. (And, it’s great for parents of boys, too). It can be hard to know where to begin or what to say when it comes to addressing body image with kids, but this article will guide you. And remember, you don’t have to do all of the tips at once – that would be overwhelming. Focus on one tip this month, and another next month. And maybe start with what feels a bit more comfortable for you … here’s a personal example. One of the tips is “Talk About Society’s Obsession with Appearance.” Here’s a snippet, “Kids are inundated with negative messages about body image, so for them, it’s just part of life. That’s why it’s so important to actively discuss our culture’s obsession with appearance with kids, especially girls. Opportunities to talk about this exist almost everywhere: when you spot a magazine at the supermarket checkout talking about getting that “perfect bikini body” or when a character in a TV show declares herself “hideous” because of a pimple, adults can point out that these messages are subtle but often damaging.”  My daughter and I have been watching a cooking competition on demand, so there are some commercials we can’t fast forward through. There’s a men’s hair loss commercial on all the time. So, I decided to use this commercial as my gateway to talking about society’s obsession with appearance. For some reason, it was easier to start with something related to men. So, I said something like, “Did you know losing some hair as people get older is normal? It’s just what some bodies do. But this company is trying to make money and sell a product, so they want guys to feel bad or embarrassed about losing their hair.” Now that we’ve had that conversation, it’s been easier to point other things out, and I guess it’s working because when I ask why an advertisement exists, my daughter will roll her eyes and say, “Because they want to make money.”
  2. <a href="http://<iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/7EhXJnZYkFCXoGcEr3pXIo&quot; width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media">Peacock’s Birthday (via Sleeptight Stories on Spotify): Another parenting story here. My daughter loves podcasts and one day she was listening to a series usually reserved for bedtime. At night, I’m usually like ‘peace!’ and out of the bedroom as quickly as possible, so I don’t hear the stories. But just the other week she listened to Sleeptight Stories during the day, and I overheard Peacock’s Birthday. Peacock is so worried about its beautiful feathers and other outward appearances that it doesn’t participate with the other animals in the fun birthday party activities – like splashing in the water, etc. Luckily after awhile, Peacock realizes life is more fun when you DO things rather than worrying about how you look or how others think you look. Um, how many of us adults need that message? (Hand raised!) It’s the idea of self-objectification that I’ve been learning about from books like Beyond Beautiful and More Than a Body. Part of self-objectification is the idea of going ‘outside’ ourselves and looking at ourselves from an outside perspective (how do I look, what are people thinking of my appearance, etc.?) and assigning value to THAT, rather than experiencing life from within ourselves (how do I feel physically, emotionally,? Am I present and enjoying what my body allows me to do?). Have you ever been in a social situation where half of your brain was listening to the person who was talking while the other half was worried about whether people notice [insert any body/looks topic relevant to you]? Or have you chosen NOT to do something because of your outward appearance? I have. And it’s really not fun when you think about it. So, when I’m struggling with self-objectification, I try to go inward. It’s not easy and it takes repetition. But what if we could teach our kids early on to go inward and focus on what their bodies allow them to do, live, experience? Peacock’s Birthday is here to help you do that.

That’s it for this roundup. I hope this was helpful. If you find articles you’d like me to include in a future roundup, please send them my way!

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