Raising children to be body positive

I have never been body positive, or confident in my own skin. Perhaps, that comes from my mum constantly criticizing me. I was always jealous of others and deemed myself not good enough. It has had a devastating impact on my confidence, one that I carried through childhood to now.

Self-confidence

I didn’t have the self-confidence of others, and I suffered from eating disorders as a teenager. It wasn’t until after I fell pregnant with Elijah and then again with Harlow, that I realised how much pressure and unrealistic expectation is really out there. There is pressure on is on a new mother to suddenly regain the body she did before she feel pregnant, despite growing and accommodating a human (or two, or three!) and giving birth.

Pressure

I had two fairly large babies and I found it perplexing that we were being pressurised by what we saw in the media, adverts, and magazines sometimes sadly ones aimed at parents that we were failing if we didn’t fit into our skinny jeans 2 weeks after giving birth. Even family members were telling me towards the end of my pregnancy that the weight will soon come off afterward. Every day I was told I was big, I was small as if my uterus was now up for public discussion.

‘Scummy mummies’

We are made to feel that if we don’t have a full face of makeup and sport a perfect up do we are ‘scummy mummies’. We as a society love to shame others. We are constantly bombarded with images of perfection that do not mirror real life. Even more now we live in the age of social media.

We are told we must change our bodies, our faces, our hair to look like this, to be that and to not accept and be proud of who we are. I am still a very self-conscious person, but I want my two boys to be comfortable on their own skin, to be body positive and to have the self-confidence I never had.

The zipper club

I knew it would be easy for me to pass on my insecurities to my children but I knew I had to be the one to set a good example. Especially with Elijah who has an incision ‘zipper’ scar running down his chest from open heart surgery.

When we took Elijah swimming for the first time I was worried that people would stare, they would look at him and make comments about his chest. A friend of ours at the time was very blunt with me and said, who cares? He should be proud of it. Ever since then I have always promoted body positivity in both of my children.

Brands

Slowly, some big brands have cottoned onto the fact that they are responsible to promote body positivity, but we still have a long way to go. The language we use, for example, phrases like ‘plus size’ I believe are still detrimental when actually they are likely to be of an average size that many of us can resonate with.

Real women

I don’t think it was until after I had children that I realised how important it was as a parent to promote body positivity.  I do not hide my body in front of them, as I want them to know what a real body looks like, one that has had two children and given birth twice! I want them to know a woman doesn’t need to wear make up to look pretty, she doesn’t need an elaborate hairdo to fit in with everyone else. That it is okay to feel comfortable being who you are, looking like what you do.

Acceptance

I want to teach them to be accepting of everyone and to never judge anyone just by looks, or by societies expectations of them. I want them to know the adverts that they see and the images on social media aren’t necessarily the real world and to never compare themselves to them.

Most of all, the gift I want to pass onto my children is one I didn’t receive myself, I want them to be truly comfortable in their own skin and proud of who they are.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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Vicki regularly blogs for me,  along with other guest bloggers check out some here !

 

Jess x