Take a quick look at this picture…
We hear a lot about how the pressures on women to look a certain way is enormous right now with the impact of social media and reality shows such as Love Island.
However…it seems maybe this is not something new and begs the question has it always been like this? Older generations are often heard saying:
“It wasn’t like this back in 1940-50s, women were curvy like Marilyn Monroe and proud of their curves”.
Take another look at this picture with the “ideal” measurements for Miss American in the 1950’s. Wow! If this isn’t social pressure then what is?!
I always come across a particular photo of Marilyn Monroe circulating Facebook every couple of months with a lot of captions around how “real women had curves back then” and how she was the ‘sexiest woman in the world’ and didn’t care about any extra rolls that she may have had. Women hold her up as an icon because they say she promoted a good body image. Yes she certainly looked amazing, but little do people know, Marilyn was actually very self-conscious and suffered from disordered eating throughout her life (bulimia, extreme yo-yo dieting etc). It seemed she too struggled with the pressure to maintain her “perfect” hourglass” figure.
What I am trying to say is that the pressure has and always will be there. It’s not fair and we don’t have to like it, but it is true and it’s something that sadly I doubt will ever go away. One thing we can do however, is take the time to teach our children about healthy body image; looking after themselves from the inside first, showing them what their bodies are capable of with daily physical activity, feeding them good, nutritious food the majority of the time (whilst still allowing them to fully enjoy the odd chocolate bar/pizza etc). Set them challenges they can realistically achieve such as running 2 km with you at Park Run, learning to ride a bike, climbing trees. Show them that looking after that little body of theirs will make it strong and capable of more than just “looking good” as they grow up.
On the flip side, if you are constantly weighing yourself in front of them, talking non stop about dieting, describing yourself as fat or putting yourself down in front of them, then this IS going to have an affect on them (and probably not the one you want). If they see Mummy/Daddy eating well the majority of the time, enjoying the not-so-nutritious stuff, guilt-free some of the time, maintaining an active lifestyle, talking about what physical challenges they have achieved etc, then they will see this as the norm and hopefully this will mean they then follow your example and avoid finding themselves in the position where they feel they “have to lose weight” to merely look good.
If you look after yourself on the inside, in all the ways I have described above, it shows on the outside. As I always say, a good body should be a result of a healthy lifestyle NOT the only motivator for living one.
Even if they still do (for one reason or another) find themselves in a position where losing weight would be beneficial to them or because they want to – lets clear up that I am not saying there is anything wrong with someone wanting to change their body shape/size/appearance – my problem is with the pressures put upon women to do so for all the wrong reasons. So if they do, at least they will know the right way to go about it rather than turning towards a detox or fad diet that are thrown so regularly in front of them when they are at their most vulnerable (again usually by marketing companies and social media).
There is little we can do to control the pressures of media on our children…BUT there is a LOT we can do to try and arm them against succumbing to this pressure.