A couple weeks ago, my family and I (as well as some friends) loaded up and spent the day at a large waterpark near our area. I’ve been pretty hard on myself and my body lately after two years of COVID restrictions, and I was prepared to spend the day feeling a little bad about myself as I compared my body to bodies that are twenty years younger and have not been through the, ahem, “life experiences” I’ve had (looking at you, my three favorite reasons for my stretch marks).
However, the day prompted a beautiful conversation with my nearly eleven year old daughter about body positivity and loving yourself.
Here’s what we learned…
5 Things Every Tween Needs to Learn About Body Positivity and Self-Love
Even those with really thin, petite frames have bumps and bulges. It’s just part of life.
Despite what we may see on Instagram, we all really do have bumps, bulges, scars, and imperfections. They are a part of life, and they are what make us beautiful.
Confidence is everything.
If you carry yourself with confidence, it doesn’t matter WHAT size you are.
It is so much more important to focus on what your body can do, rather than what a certain feature looks like in a bikini.
I have muscular legs…that isn’t changing because I am a runner. However, those bulky, muscular legs have carried me a whopping 26.2 miles at one time. I am a WARRIOR…with some muscular thighs.
Friends that have standards for what you should look like, rather than how you are health wise, are not your friends.
I wish that I had known that when I drove myself to pass out trying to lose weight after some snobby teenage girl in high school told me I was fat. But I was impressionable, and I took that to mean there was something wrong with me, rather than the fact that she was obviously projecting some insecurities by insulting all the girls around her.
You get one body. Take care of it.
I talked about this in my recent piece on Simone Biles and the power of stepping away, and my advice still stands. Attend to your physical health needs. Eat good, wholesome food. Get enough physical activity. Rest. Take care of your mental health with proper time to relax.
At nearly eleven, my daughter has such a better grasp on this than I did at her age. According to familydoctor.org, children as young as three can have body image issues, but the good news is that you can help. Editorial staff at Family Doctor urge, “Now is the time to change the conversation. The way you talk about your body will influence your child. The meals you serve, the meals you eat, whether you exercise, and the importance you place on how you look will influence your child”.
This means that I set the tone for body positivity within our home. Constantly berating my body or saying I need to lose weight sends a poor message to my children and may negatively influence how they view their own bodies.
When to Get Help
Sometimes, even our best efforts go awry, and we take note that our teens or tweens are really struggling with developing a healthy body image. However, if you notice the following symptoms, Family Doctor (2021) urges parents to visit a doctor right away…
Symptoms of eating disorders:
- Excessive weight loss
- Eating very small portions or skipping meals entirely
- Exercising excessively
- Eating large amounts of food without gaining weight
- Finding excuses to go to the bathroom right after eating
- Using diuretic pills and laxatives
- Being secretive about eating
- Sneaking large quantities of food to eat alone
Family Doctor. (2021). Body Image (Children and Teens). Retrieved from https://familydoctor.org/building-your-childs-body-image-and-self-esteem/
Further Resources on Body Positivity, Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders
If you found this article helpful, check out these other resources provided by The Lily-Jo Project.
- Eating Disorder Resource
- Self-Esteem Resource
- How to Cope With Body Anxiety & Covid-19: 6 Practical Tips
- Hindsight is 2020 – Lessons learnt from 20 years of an Eating Disorder
- 5 Toxic New Year Narratives and How to Ignore Them
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is an early childhood educator in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com), her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.