The other day, as I was passing out a round of after-school snacks, Jenni stated, "I can't have one, I am going on a diet!" I about died. "Jenni, dear, why would you go on a diet, you are beautiful just the way you are!" I say. She retorts sheepishly, "Whatever..." and touches her tummy and sides. Immediately, I went over to her and gave her the biggest hug ever and said that dieting doesn't make someone beautiful, it's your personality that makes you beautiful. I told her that eating healthier foods is what keeps someone active and alive. She smiled and ate her snack.
I can only hope that she learned an important lesson from this impressionable moment. I hope I responded in the right way. I would never have guessed that this wholesome child had body image issues, but then again, some people may not think that I do either. I tell people that I eat what I want and love my body. Which I do... but sometimes those negative thoughts infiltrate your mind. You see pictures of you thinner self back then that makes you wish you had exercised to keep up that body. You see pictures of friends who were overweight in the past but who have now lost a significant amount of weight and look better than you. This comparison does a toll on your mind.... even when you try to shut the negative thoughts out.
I am tired of media influencing us. Me, Jenni, friends, family, our future generations. Why do we have to focus on our thighs or our tummies. Why do we have to worry about what desserts we can or can't eat. Body image and media analysis should be a required course in middle and high school curriculum. I can't imagine Jenni growing up to feel insecure about her body when all I see is beauty radiating from every pore. Someday maybe she will understand and be able to share that love with her own children. I can only hope that my words were meaningful.....
*name changed for confidentiality purposes.