Monday, 5 November 2012

Ramblings about body image

I've been thinking a lot today about body image - both my own and my daughters.

I think that since having her 3 years ago I have tried to appear happy and confident about my body for her sake, both consciously and unconsciously   I am not afraid to be naked in front of her, I am not embarrassed when she stares at my nakedness or asks questions about it.  I tell her she is beautiful and perfect because that is exactly what she is.  When I look at her I see no faults at all - I just see the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  Okay, part of that will just be because she is my daughter, but I am sure it is so much more than that:  she still has that pure innocence about looks and behaviours.  I don't think she has ever told me she doesn't like anyone unless she is being stubborn and doesn't want to see Nana!

She is completely unashamed to be running around the house naked, rolling around on the floor flashing her bum, she frequently sits on the sofa and touches herself without wondering if its an acceptable thing to do in public.

I am actually in awe of her freeness and acceptance of everything and everyone.  Even when shopping today and pointing out that a lady had a big bum, it was not done with any negativity, she was merely pointing out something she had noticed.  

I'm not saying that this is in any way down to my openness with her having a some sort of positive effect, maybe its too early to be having any effect at all.  

But what if my relatively unconscious openness will help her to keep hold of her body confidence for  little bit longer.  What if by making a conscious effort to be more comfortable in my own skin, she will be comfortable in hers even once her childhood innocence has been erased by the world around her.

I am by no means happy with my body but I have learnt to accept the body I have: the lumps, dimply bits, wobbly bits, saggy bits, the big bits, the just plain weird bits, more than ever since having Faith.  Pregnancy and childbirth was very kind to me - I didn't pile on the weight or get stretchmarks or stubborn loose skin - but it left its mark nonetheless and rather than being something I wish I didn't have, most of the time I am proud of the way it left me - my boobs may be saggier than I would want, but they are like that because I gave my daughter the best start in life I could give her - how could I be ashamed of that?

Like most people, I have struggled a lot with my perception of myself and it has led me at times down a very dark path of self loathing, something I will do whatever is in my power to stop happening to my daughter.

But it is nothing new is it?  My Mum is terrible for it - she is always putting herself down because she doesn't think she is beautiful - truth is that I look at my Mum the same way I look at my daughter - to me she has always been beautiful because of who she is, what she has done, and how she looks.

So, why do we all feel as though we have to be beautiful to other people in order to have confidence in ourselves?  Why do we allow the world around us to dictate how we should perceive beauty?  And why do we allow it to destroy the self-worth of our children?

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