Giving Kids a Healthy Message About Their Bodies

Upon licking that brown MAC eyeshadow..."Tastes like sugar!"

Upon licking that brown MAC eyeshadow…”Tastes like sugar!”

by Jenny Hansen

Since last summer, I’ve been gathering articles on this topic and, with bikini season upon us, I think it’s time to share them.

So many people make resolutions about how they look. Hell, I used to make these resolutions. And this year, I just. . .didn’t.

Perhaps it’s because I’m older and a teensy bit calmer than I used to be. Maybe it’s because I’ve got other more important things to work on. Most likely, it’s because I’m surrounded by people, especially at home and online, who value my inside image more than my outside one.

Whatever the reason, none this year’s resolutions had to do with my body, except to start taking my vitamins again. (So far, I’ve only managed to get down Emergen-C and Baby Girl’s Mickey Mouse Gummies on a daily basis, but I’m doing it!)

Awhile back, Kristen Lamb (one of our amazing SocialIn writers) wrote a post called Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and Media “Mean Girls.” It’s amazing.

One of my favorite paragraphs in the whole post? (And there were MANY.)

“But where I see the problem is, instead of being shown how to look great and age well, we’re brainwashed into believing we shouldn’t age at all. I have NO CLUE if I look good for my age. Everyone is Photoshopped or Botoxed. What does a healthy weight even look like?”

"Ooooh, PRETTY."

“Ooooh, PRETTY.”

My daughter is a toddler right now and she’s fascinated by everything and everyone.She loves bodily functions, waffles, princesses, her parents, and her own face. She’s developing a sense of style and her first thoughts about her body. We’re watching this process and doing our best to just get out of the way.Most of all, I’m trying hard to provide her with better input and messages than I received.

I find myself looking at cartoons and magazines in a whole new way, and I’m not always quiet about it.

My husband laughed at how irate I got when we watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer last year. I was angry at rude Daddy Donner for making Rudolph hide his glorious red nose. And I harangued over the fact that “Oh NOW they’re all madly in love with Rudolph…now that he has something they need. What a bunch of rude a-holes.”

He reminded me it was a cartoon, and Babykins wasn’t likely to pick up the same message.

Same thing when I ranted about Beauty and the Beast. “Really? So this nasty alcoholic KIDNAPS HER and she falls in love with him, and trusts her love to CHANGE HIM? Really?!”

Yeah, I’m not very shy and retiring when it comes to these things.

Below are four posts on this topic that I loved and saved, just for you:

What say you, SocialIn readers? Some of you are raising young women and men, some of you are raising no one but yourselves. However all of you received messages growing up, about your body, what you put into it, and what you put on it.

Which messages do you look back on with gratitude and which messages tormented you for years? What would you recommend for shaping a healthy body image/attitude in a child? What did you find damaging? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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