Love Your Body Week was founded in the late 90s by the National Organization of Women (NOW).
This week is Love Your Body Week and is being done to circumvent the terrible harm done to women (and men) by the media (and ourselves for buying into it, if we're honest) when it comes to our body image.
In a country where actresses and singers are routinely criticized for having curves (and in Hollywood, curves can mean a person is a size 4-6) and men are called fat for not sporting a six-pack and arms of steel, we need to accept our body shapes and the sooner the better.
Photoshop has done more to wreak havoc on body image than most other kinds of editing. Men and women appear in print without an ounce of body fat, no blemishes or lines (no matter their age) and arm and leg distortion that may well cause a person to fall over if they actually had this body type. Actress Kate Winslet famously criticized GQ magazine for changing her legs entirely and CBS Magazine took 20 lbs off Katie Couric in order to make her look thinner on their cover. They must have thought that showing the extra 20 pounds would have deeply affected how the public perceived her news-telling and interviewing skills.
In the real world, our children look up to their perfect tween idols and see nothing short of photoshopped perfection. Then they look at their own healthy bodies and see failure. This is when eating disorders begin. Peer pressure, parents who constantly called themselves fat and false media portrayals are seeing kids as young as 5 and 6 unhappy with their bodies.
How do we change this?
We can begin, as we always should, at home. No more of the "my butt looks fat in this" from mothers. Too many moms, without thinking, call themselves fat several times a day and obsess over foods and calorie counting. Our daughters adore us and want to be us. They copy everything. They may sometimes say what we say but they always do what we do. We must remember that.
Good role models like female political leaders, doctors, vets, architects and healthy sports women as well as women in the Arts are a heck of a lot better for our kids to aspire to be than the spoiled size 2 princesses that pervade reality shows.
Eating disorders are not just seen in very thin women, or average size bulimics. Extreme over-eating and binge eating are also disorders that cause women to hate how they look. Name calling and harassment is not going to make a person healthy. Support, therapy and teaching a healthy body image will.
We need to tell our daughters that a fit and healthy body does not mean a thin one. Size matters, but size 0 does not. Looking and feeling good is not a competition.
Complimenting our children on their looks (and we all call our kids pretty and handsome, right?) is ok in moderation. But we must never compliment (or criticize) them for their size. Stick to mentioning cute button noses and striking eyes and keep our compliments above the neck. This includes complimenting school work, hard work and effort, as well as kindness to others.
It can be hard to love our bodies in a world where every ounce of us is up for scrutiny. I happen to love my body and I'm no size 0! There are a few bits and bobs I'd like to work on but generally I slip on a dress or jeans and think "that's right sister! 40 years old and 3 kids and I still have it!" We need not be confident only via perfection. We can see our so-called "flaws" and still think we look great. And we can see through those flaws to what really matters. Focusing on tiny imperfections is about a helpful as whistling during a hurricane. At the end of our lives, do we really want to think back on how much we obsessed over our bodies?
Let's enjoy what we look like, work on our health issues and be our own best advocates instead of our own worst critics. And next time we look in a mirror, say "I love my body." Even if we don't exactly mean it at the time, there's a lot of merit in the "fake it till you make it" adage.
For more on love my body week, click here : http://www.loveyourbodyweek.com/Love_Your_Body_Week_2010/Home.html
For more on body image, click here : http://www.womenshealth.gov/bodyimage/
Do you love your body? Why? Why not?
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