Saturday, March 15, 2014

Body image and parenting

This week, we enjoyed some lovely spring like weather. For the first time since last summer, I took my shirt off during a run.

The cool thing about my scar is that from a distance it makes me look like I have an ab. I don't. I also have a little pooch beneath my belly button where my stomach is soft and squishy :) I had to take quite a while off from doing abs and lifting weight after my surgery. I have lost muscle mass and tone. Frankly, doing abs and having a rock hard stomach/body is not my priority at the moment. I feel like things are "good enough" and if someone doesn't want to see my cut up torso, they can just look the other way!
Let's talk about body image again. To my friends: are there any of you out there who did not beat yourself as an adolescent over what you perceived your physical shortcomings to be? I know I did, as I have discussed here before. I know that as I have grown up and aged, I realized that my body as a teenager was never perfect, but it was pretty darned good. As I have gotten older, things have started to wrinkle, droop, sag, etc. Right now my hair is thinning and turning gray due to chemo. I have made peace with my body and it's various imperfections that I never had during my younger years. Yes, there are things I wouldn't mind changing but I know at this point, certain things are not going to change for the better no matter what I do (unless I resort to surgery and that is not going to happen). It was a long process to get to where I am today, but I have a very healthy relationship with food and my physique. 
     As a parent, my policy has been not to engage in fat talk around my kids. I talk about healthful eating and exercise for both physical and emotional well being. Still, kids get bombarded by images and negative body talk from other sources. How do we as parents combat these harmful influences? 
    I would love to hear from women (and men) out there. Tell me about your body image as a teen. Were you hard on yourself? Have you made peace with your imperfections? If so, how do you think you achieved that sense of peace? Are you happier with your body as an adult than you were as a teen? If so, why? If not, why not? If you have kids, how do you try to encourage a healthy body image? Talk to me about your body image, how it has changed over time and how it influences how you parent.


  1. I have been mad of and picked on my whole life for my body. The names I was called were very painful. I have lost over 100 pounds for which I am proud of but I still fight daily with the imperfections. I have two rather large scars on my left chest from heart surgeries. After the first surgery I was able to hide them very well. But, the newest scar is positioned in a way that I don't think I will be able to hide it. I suppose I should be proud of my scar because they are what has kept me alive but I am not there just yet

  2. I know I grew up with a terrible self esteem. I blamed it on moving, changing friends, never knowing or believing if friends were loyal. Because I moved, I thought being liked was really important so I thought what I liked like compared to others was important. I was am overachiever in high school and college because I thought what I may lack in looks or charm was balanced by perhaps people thinking I was smart or achieved Honors. I was and still am 5' 5". I have curves and was never really overvweight, but I thought I was fat anyway. In college I took up regular exercise and running and still exercise now. 4 kids later I am 15 pounds heavier than I was when I got married 20 years ago. It is along story...... but at some point it all becomes exhausting. I try to take what I have processed over the years and be proactive about helping my kids. I tell my daughter that not all girls are the same and not all guys are the same either. Some like tall and thin. Some like curves. Along with good grooming, the most important quality is that people think you are honest, real, fun and interesting to speak with.