If you are a parent or uncle or aunty or mentor to a young person in your life and you have ever struggled with loving your body how it is, this is for you. We know it is important to model positive body image for the children and young people in our lives. But what does that look like? And how do you model positive body image if you were never taught this?
We now know how important a positive body image is for children and young people, we know that they learn mostly by watching the adults around them. My mum didn’t love the shape of her body and I was often told I had the same shape. For me this set a pattern of thinking that I struggled to break, but I have come a long way.
I grew up in the eighties when anorexia and bulimia was rife, not talked about but common among young girls.
I did not suffer these conditions but I had no sense of how to love the body I was given, I loved dance as a child but was told at the age of 5 that I didn’t have the right body type and would never be tall enough to be a dancer.
I wavered between enjoying how my body felt on the inside when I was dancing or moving and not liking what it looked like on the outside. Food became a comfort to me when I wasn’t feeling very good which as a teenager was quite often.
The place where I was able to connect with my body was through dance and theatre and it has been a positive thread in my life since then.
Movement for pleasure was always a key for me into a deeper connection with my body that went beyond what it looked like from the outside. Whether it be dancing around the lounge room, doing some yoga with friends or walking the dog, movement always helped me feel better.
When I was working at a desk all week I did Pilates twice a week, every week, no matter what. This kept me connected to my body, my core strength and my vitality even though my lifestyle didn’t support these things.
Now, as a Pilates and Movement teacher I understand the science behind why movement makes us feel good. And I know from my own experience and my clients’ that having a regular movement practice helps us to feel better about our bodies. We move in a more connected way and we feel the strength and connections within our bodies.
One of my favourite quotes from Joseph Pilates is “Change happens through movement and movement heals.” This has certainly been my experience.
Modelling positive body image
To model positive body image to children and young people you need one thing:
You need to engage in some form of active self-care involving movement. This can be very simple such as going for a walk, but it needs to be something that makes your body feel good and makes you feel good about being in your body and it needs to be regular.
The regular experience of having a positive feeling in and about your body will subtly change how you feel about your body and this will flow into your language. Instead of talking about your bodies deficits, as we are all prone to do, you will have experience to draw on that will frame your own body in a more positive light.
Parents and carers of children are the group that I think most need a regular movement practice. Yet parents probably struggle the most to find time for this. I really wish my mum and dad had some support to show up for themselves and show me what self-care looks like.
So as a parent how do you find time to get the movement practice (back) into your life? You commit. You put it in the diary, you book it, you show up, however you are. And you choose a teacher that makes space for you to connect in a positive way with your body.
This is the beginning of a change that will, if you stick with it, will change your relationship with your body and influence the relationship your children have with their bodies.
With this transformation in mind I have designed a six-week Pilates mat class series especially for parents. This is more than just an exercise class, it is a conditioning program designed with the role of parenting mind. It is an inclusive place for connection with your body from the inside out.
If this sounds like something you could use in your life click here for bookings and more information or call me, Brigid, directly on 0404459605.