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Body Image

Stop! Did I hear correctly that Lady Gaga has been fat- shamed after an amazing performance at the Super Bowl? Are you serious? Who has the right to sit there and judge someone else’s body, performance or anything for that matter? No one! This infuriates me as a female and a mother of a teenage daughter who is so vulnerable at this point in her life.

Body image can mean many different things to people both positive and negative. With our children exposed to a variety of images through social media, music video clips, magazines and even television ads, they become increasingly aware at an early age at what is perceived as acceptable in today’s society.

I was reading an interesting article about the perception that boys have of their body image and what they believe they should look like at a frightening early age. High profile singers and actors can have a massive impact on the way our children can be influenced, whether it be how to wear your hair, dress a certain way and look a certain way. The stereo typical images of slim females and toned males are there for us to see, like it or not. As a mum of a girl and a boy, I am very much aware of how my 11 year old daughter perceives herself and of late, my 11 year old boy perceives himself. When they start to compare themselves to such images, we discuss the positives about themselves, not what they are seeing on a music video clip or magazine which has probably been photo shopped or filmed from a certain angle.

It is important to be aware of what we say about our own bodies in front of our children. Let’s face it, we all have something we aren’t happy about and that’s ok but when you are talking about your own body image and your children are present, as parents, we need to be careful. Empowering our children to accept the way they are is something we need to teach them, and build up their resilience and encourage them to love themselves for who they are. Easier said than done I know, but no one else is going to do it for them and I know as a parent I would rather it came from me.

When my daughter came to me concerned about her weight, not that she should be but one comment from a boy at school shattered her, I sat down with her and asked her what her body did for her. Mind you, she swims 5 days a week clocking up a lot of kilometres in the pool. She looked at me oddly and thought about it. “It helps me walk, run, play netball, swim and learn at school.” We discussed how her body is powerful and she needs to keep it healthy to maintain doing all of these activities. This is why we eat the foods we eat, maintain physical activities and make sure we sleep well. That discussion was a platform for her to understand why we don’t eat a lot of take away, why I love getting out and walking or bike riding and the impact these choices have on our overall health and wellbeing. The last thing I want to see is my daughter standing in front of the mirror saying she doesn’t like this and she doesn’t like that and ‘I am going on a diet’. I want her to stand in front of the mirror and say how powerful her body is and embrace what it enables her to do. From that develops a healthy mind and a positive self-image. Yes I have bad days, we all do and I may regret having that extra Tim Tam but the difference is I don’t share that with my children, I silently beat myself up about it on the inside!!

Comparing ourselves to others seems to be human nature. To be able to empower our children and teach them to love themselves for who they are, warts and all, we as parents need to step up and be positive role models and lead by example. Remind your children what they can do and that if everyone was the same in life we wouldn’t have people who inspire us to do the best we can do. Everyone is unique - being unique is a great thing.

Lady Gaga, I salute you and all of those other amazing women who put themselves out there in the public spotlight knowing they are going to be judged and ripped to shreds by people who believe it is their right to do so. It isn’t now and never will be!

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