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We can't expect our kids to love their bodies if we don't

Bridget Wood

By Bridget Wood

Long skinny legs, boyish frame and shoulders great for hanging clothes…what’s not to love?

Everything, when you are 12 years old and surrounded by friends with b00bs, boyfriends, clear skin and magazines that tell you you’ll be perfect when you have this outfit, hair colour, eyeshadow or a different you.

I’m not looking at the camera because I am so ashamed of my acne, my skin like a canvas illustrating my own self-loathing, pale skin contrast with flaming red, hinting at its pain. On that beach in Margaret River, what you don’t see in the photo are my younger cousins playing freely, giggling and squealing, seemingly immune to my teenage surliness – free to be themselves much like my own children are now.

When does it change? What is that critical point that we need to be aware of so our kids can do it differently? Should we want that for them? Or is the pain a portal to consciousness, albeit a brutal one?

50% of girls aged 5-12 are worried about their weight. This is not part of our biological evolution – it’s a result of growing up amid a barrage of media and sociological norms that tell us we are not enough as we are. We are being programmed by up to 30,000 messages a day that dull our authentic voice and replace it with ‘should’s’ and ‘have to’s’ and comparisons that become all-consuming.

What would it be like to be a teenager in these times, I wonder?

How do we tell them to embrace who they are, that they are perfect, when we can barely utter those words to ourselves?

I don’t have the answers, but know it begins with me. My daughter will teach me all of my unresolved body and image issues, her pain calling me to face my own and heal it. But what if there was another way?

Yes she might be skinny, but she is also STRONG.

Her red hair will make her different, and that’s also what makes her INTERESTING.

Her pale skin won’t tan, and it will teach her to take care of herself, and CONNECT WITHIN.

And all this leads us to the truth. We are so much more than our bodies.

We are the way our eyes twinkle when we’re talking with someone we love. We are the experiences that make our heart swell with grace, the knowledge that makes us be of service to others.  

We are the sum of all of our days before now that give us the unique ability to change the story; if we want to...

Do you? Write your pledge to the Body Gratitude Project. If you're in Melbourne, join us for ‘Embrace’ on January 18. Let's be the change we want to see.  

Bridget Wood is Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles and Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother. She's a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon us.