I recently took up kickboxing classes with my sisters, and it’s been so rewarding! Not only are we learning awesome self-defense moves, but I’m rediscovering muscles I thought had shriveled up and moved to Florida.
After class the four of us head next door for some steamed broccoli and a beer. Ahem…beer has B vitamins, ya know. ;P Anyway, I’ve noticed that our conversations are centered around our bodies. It’s appropriate after a regular class like that. We also tend to lead the conversation in a positive direction. Although, my mind is constantly flying around one question: As women, how did we get here? Why is so much thought, action, and conversation based on physicality? And most importantly- what tools do we all have to change this?
I read an article a few months back about changing the dialogue with young girls. Instead of putting focus on how cute they are and what girly things they are doing, ask them about the books they like to read, if they enjoy sports, etc. Although I agree with opening up broad based questions, it’s also imperative that we teach young girls a healthy thought process when it comes to their body, mind, and femininity.
-Keep conversations positive! Focus on the young girl’s ideals, hopes, dreams rather than perpetuating our culture’s obsession with food, weight, and looks. This includes avoiding labeling food as a negative thing, putting yourself or body down, and counting calories around your children or others. It’s important to realize that kids are constantly absorbing our own conversations, consciously or subconsciously. So even be careful of what you say to other adults within’ ear-shot of the little ones.
-My two favorite things to do with children are physical activities like taking them to the park, playing sports, and even simple excursions like flying kites. Getting kids a break from their usual over stimulated mediacentric lives is great for all parties! That and doing creative activities like painting, drawing, building something with their hands. These are both ways to separate the media messenger from the
-Put the love out! Girls especially learn from a young age to associate their bodies with how much love they will receive. Praise them, love them, compliment them on all things, and don’t say anything to them that would suggest any type of body is good, bad, ugly, or superior. All bodies are good bodies!
-”I hate my body.” “I’m ugly.” When youngins’ say things like this they are usually releasing anger from a separate underlying issue. Instead of simply excusing these words with natural responses like “don’t say that, you’re beautiful”- dig a little deeper. Ask them why they feel this way and if something happened during their day to cause these feelings. Then you can work from there in positively helping them change this image of themselves.
-Lastly, speak with your daughters about the different types of media and how those outlets affect us. Then get all the young women you know together and watch “Miss Representation.” It will change your life!
Here is a similar video from Miss Representation with more ideas to help empower each other and speak out against harmful media messages.
Tags: body image, body love, positive, self esteem