Life Design Action: Change the Conversation
Requires: Awareness and word watching
Does not require: A remote control. You’ve got to literally get up and change the record.
Heard something crazy the other day. A four year old girl was chatting to her friend in one of those funny, “lets pretend to be grown-up” voices when she threw into the conversation, “Hey, my mummy weighed me yesterday and I had lost one pound! Isn’t that good?”
The “isn’t that good?” bit was all shrill and happy. It could have been accompanied by a clap of the hands and a little triumphant swirl in the pretty dress she was wearing. The other child looked at her, frowning slightly and then started waggling her head and chirped, “lets play cats!”
Ever since then I’ve not been able to get that little girl out of my head. The scenario has powerfully reiterated how children are like sponges, absorbing the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours from the adults around them. In the Gorgeousness Programme I talk a lot about the influence that the media has on body image, but it is the mothers and female carers of girls who are the main source of information about life.
Having a mum who is preoccupied with her size, on a never ending diet and continually complains about her who is never happy with her shape, communicates body dissatisfaction to her daughter. The same is true for mothers who build the foundations of their worth on looking flawless and staying forever young and then struggle with their identity as age begins to creep in. These daughters then grow up with the same unhealthy relationship to their bodies and so the story goes on.
So, what to do? How can we make sure that we aren’t passing on our body issues to our girls?
The answer is to change the conversation. Become aware of what you are saying about your body. Become aware of the subliminal messages you are passing on about food (for example restricting your food intake, not sitting down to meals etc). Talk about health and looking after your body with good food and exercise rather than weight loss to “lose these love handles/fat arse/whatever”. And if you can’t help indulging in convos with your friends about weight loss etc, commit to curbing those conversations when your children are around. When you speak to your daughter try to filter comments about how she looks out of your conversation. Compliment her on what she is doing, how she is being as a person and the effort she’s putting into things, not just on how pretty she is or what she is wearing.
As parents we have an amazing power to influence our babies.
Like William Ross Wallace says, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
Empowering food for thought.