Will we ever get to a point where no longer default to a comment on appearance whenever we see nieces, nephews, babies, and other children so that they aren’t starved for compliments focused on their physical image as they get older?
Think about it.
Over the holidays. How many babies, toddlers, kids, and teens did you see? And how many of them did you comment on how they looked?
Oh, you’re getting so big!
I love her chubby cheeks!
Oh, you’re growing up and becoming so beautiful!
Ok, time out.
I get it. You haven’t seen someone in a while, and as you literally see them walk up, you go for the easy way out and comment on your first reaction, what you see. But look at this way…
They don’t see you often. When they do, you comment on how they look. More times than not you’re probably feeding them, giving them a second helping, or telling them to eat more and put some meat on their bones.
Before we even talk about commercials, magazines, red carpet specials, movies, music videos, billboards, ads, EVERYTHING THEY SEE EVERY DAY…the small network of people they subconsciously rely on for their safety and well being is setting them up to focus on one thing…
How. They. Look.
Maybe I should take another step back.
You’ve probably heard about the trend of the thigh gap.
I read something today about boasting a bikini bridge.
The article was shared online with a tagline referring to how there aren’t already enough ways for girls to feel bad about their bodies.
First off, it isn’t just girls that have image issues, boys to too. As do women, and men.
Secondly, Jennifer Lawrence has nothing to do with how you feel about your body. Nor does Alyssa Milano, or Jay Mohr.
You do. And whether you’re reading this pertaining to yourself, or as a parent, uncle, or aunt in regards to your favorite children, it’s still up to you.
So don’t go blaming the media for forcefeeding this impossible images into their heads. Don’t blame the fashion industry for hiring stick thin models to show off clothes you’ll never afford nor wear on any regular day when you work in your office, school, restaurant, or home. Don’t blame musicians, artists, politicians, or any of them.
How about this? Don’t blame anyone.
But start the re-education in your own home, better yet, in your own mind.
Try refraining from commenting on someone’s image and talk to them for a bit. Compliment them on their successes in soccer this year, or a science project they rocked out. Ask them about what book they’re reading, or what sports team they like, and have a conversation about why you think One Direction is to them what N’Sync was to you, or The Beatles or Taylor Swift.
Try broadening your own perspective and encouraging them with more than physical appearances, and if you do want to comment on their appearance, try something new like:
You look so healthy!
You look happy!
Or flip the perspective:
I’m so glad to see you!
I’ve missed you so much!
I’ve been missing this hug all year.
Give and show them worth in regards to their relationship with you. Not based on what you see. Because the less you see, the less they become, not just to you, but to themselves.
And one more thing in regards to weight, size, and fashion…stop obsessing over what size you are, because no one’s going to stop you and say, “oh, those 14s are too small.” Why not? Because they don’t know the size you’re wearing, they just see how it fits your body. And guess what? Clothes are made in so many different sizes for a reason. So don’t focus on fitting a size. Focus on wearing what amplifies your awesome. Show off the intangibles they can’t see, and use what they can see to make it spectacular.
UPDATE: I saw this video today (2/28/14) and knew I had to add it to one of my blogs about children because it says so poignantly what I want to drive home. So here it is...