If you look at the cover of most women’s magazines, or even watch the latest music or viral videos on social media, one frightening message rings clear:
These are the role models for young girls. These skinny, airbrushed, artificially toned, half naked girls.
Parenting in this kind of media world is nothing short of difficult, to say the least. And as a mother, specifically, it has inadvertently made your job more important than ever before. Because not only do you have to protect your children from the monsters under the bed, but now you also have to protect them from the monsters in the media that whisper: you’re not skinny enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re just not enough.
You, as your daughters’ primary female role model, are her best line of defense against those destructive messages bombarding her – and you – every day.
When some of the most beautiful models in the industry have inches of their bodies photo shopped and airbrushed off for magazine covers, it’s no wonder little girls are developing eating disorders before they even hit puberty.
Expectations about a female’s appearance are so out of whack and horribly unrealistic, that researchers are now seeing girls as young as five crying about all the things that are “wrong” with their bodies. How can us moms go above and beyond to help our daughters not feel this way, and instead, feel empowered and beautiful?
When kindergarten girls truly believe that they’re not thin, pretty, or sexy enough, something is very wrong. Yes, I said sexy enough. That was not a typo. I have seen first hand pictures of some of my friends little girls on Instagram, flashing their too-sexy-for-a-5-year-old swimsuits and posing like a the fashion models they wish they already were. . It’s sickening, not to mention heartbreaking. And these are good moms too!
Good moms or not, at the heart of it all, we have to realize that we too are still just girls. We are trying to love our bodies as they are – stretch marks and cellulite alike – while simultaneously trying to ignore the perfect faces and figures of our beloved models on the covers of the magazines we see each day. We’re trying to teach our daughters to love their bodies in a world that doesn’t support us loving our own, unless, of course, it’s free of cellulite and anything human. So if we are insecure with our own bodies, we unknowingly, and certainly not intentionally, deliver the message to our daughters to be insecure with their bodies as well.
Well, mothers unite, because it’s up to us to stop this cycle. We, as mothers, have to love our bodies in order to set an example for our daughters to love their own as well. As it is. Right now.
I realize this is a tough job. Our society is obsessed with body image, youth, and beauty. As part of the entertainment industry myself, I’ve seen it firsthand. I recently cast an actress for a lead in a movie who was athletic and in great shape. A year later, because of some feedback from the media, she dropped 10 lbs of muscle. In trying to look like everyone else, she took away what made her beautiful and unique.
So, moms, I’m sorry to say it, but the writing is on the wall: you’re fighting an uphill battle. But it’s a noble one, to be sure. You have to teach your daughters that seeking attention for their minds, athleticism, and natural talents is much sexier than seeking it for looks that will inevitably fade.
Are you ready for the fight?
Because I’m calling on moms across the nation to help me raise a new generation of little ladies to grow up loving their God given bodies. You, their mothers, are their best line of defense against anything that tells them otherwise.
If you need a little help getting started, here are some tips and tricks we use in my house. I hope you will give them a try in yours.
1. Make “diet” a dirty word.
I don’t talk about diets around our house. Even when I feel like I need to lose a few pounds after the holidays, I try to stay away from that destructive language so as to always be a good role model.
2. Be an example.
In Hollywood, the, “do as I say, not as I do” attitude among parents is rampant and I don’t think that’s a fair thing to do to kids. It’s not about dieting to lose weight and be skinny. It’s about talking about eating right for our health. Eating healthy and dieting are two very different things. Teach your children to make healthy food choices so they can grow up healthy and strong. .
3. Never discuss weight.
My daughter is still in kindergarten, but I encourage her to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. I never discuss weight around her – neither mine, nor hers, nor anyone else’s – though I do stress health and feeling good. Most importantly, I let her know that she is more than just a pretty face. I try to find value in everything she does, and I encourage her in those areas as often as I can.
My goal is to help my daughters to build a foundation of self-respect. Because as their mother, I know it’s not the media or even peer pressure that will have the final say in their self-image.
That’s my job.