I often catch myself beginning to say, or actually saying, something negative about my body in front of my girls. I make a conscious and concerted effort not to, but every once in awhile, something will slip out. You see, I don’t want to pass on a negative body image and stereotypes to my girls. Yes, they’re going to be getting it everywhere else as they grow up. That makes it all the more important for me to be a refuge from our culture’s body standards lunacy. I’m the one who is going to set the tone for the rest of their lives on what is and isn’t important about themselves. If they see or hear me being neurotically concerned about what I look like, they’re going to learn and model that behavior as well.
This has become even more difficult with the onset of my fibro. Medicines make me gain weight without any change in my diet. They make me extra hungry, too. They make my skin break out. Fibro makes it difficult to exercise at all, let alone in any way that would actually change my weight or muscle tone.
So, I’ve been working on that, for myself and my daughters. My friend, Megan, over at Megmess articulated all of this perfectly. I had been thinking about all of this lately, and then she hits me with this perfect post. It very pointedly asks the question, How can I teach confidence to my daughter when I don’t have any myself?
I do want to note, that I think this is also important behavior to model for boys, too. It’s important, especially in the sort of rape culture we live in, to not reduce ourselves to our bodies and the way they look. The last thing we want to teach our children is that we are only valuable if we have perky breasts, flat stomachs, and thigh gaps.
What do you do to model confidence for your children? What, if any, impact has chronic illness had on your self-confidence? Have you found a way to fight back against low self-confidence?