When I was a senior in college, I had to complete a thesis as a requirement to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I decided to write my thesis on the correlation between body image and self esteem in women. I surveyed one hundred women ages 18-60 and needless to say there was a high correlation between those who had a poor self image and a low self esteem. It was an eye opener to read the results of the survey, which were quite disturbing. I was amazed at the large number of women who loathed their bodies and who didn’t think they had much self worth. Now that I have my own daughter and have gone through my own issues with weight, I am reminded of how important it is to teach our children to love, honor, and respect their bodies.
In today’s culture girls, especially are bombarded with images of how they should look. The images that the media have portrayed have given our children a very distorted idea of what is beautiful and what is not. From the clothes, the toys, and the television shows, parents are hard pressed to find wholesome healthy images. Last Halloween I was amazed and outraged at the provocative costumes that were available to young girls. I simply did not buy them, but it was disturbing how inappropriate they were. I am one of those parents who believe that you can’t put all the blame on the media and the fashion industry. I believe that you are responsible for what you allow in your home. If you feel that a tween television show such as Hannah Montana has adult themes that are inappropriate for your child, then do not allow them to watch it. If a skirt from the mall is too mini, don’t buy it. As parents we have to take responsibility for what we allow to filter into our homes.
Girls need to have role models that are admirable not because of their ability to wear a size 0, they should look up to a role model because of their values, morals, and character. It is important that we teach our daughters that what is on the inside is what counts. We need to remind them that they are created in the image of our father and therefore, they are beautiful not because of their clothing size or their appearance but because they are god’s creation. Their self esteem and self worth should be rooted in their relationship with the Lord. It is important that they treat their body as a temple, and that means nourishing it with healthy foods, exercise, cleanliness, and most importantly self respect.
I have said this before, and I will say it again, our children will replicate our actions. If they see us living a healthy physical, spiritual, and emotional lifestyle they are more likely to do the same. If they hear us constantly complaining about our weight, and saying, “I’m so fat, look at me, I look awful.” You better believe that they will start scrutinizing themselves. It is important that we are careful with our words. Telling your daughter, she can stand to loose a few pounds can lead to a lifetime of her constantly analyzing her weight. I am by no means saying to let your child become obese, however if you see your child gaining an unhealthy amount of weight, incorporate more physical activity together, for example, take tennis or dance lessons together, or just take more evening walks. Let your kids see you active, self confident, and caring about your body, be their role model and remove the responsibility from the media.
Self image and self esteem are vital to the well being of our girls and our boys. At a very young age children are aware of their bodies. They are a blank slate until all the outside influences come in and begin to cloud their vision. Bad self esteem can lead to all sorts of problems as well as a poor body image. Instill in your children that their bodies are a sacred gift from God and it is up to them to care for it and appreciate it. Compliment your daughter, and encourage her to live by her own set of rules, not the rules that her peers set. Give her the courage to be different and not follow the leader of the pack. Tell her she is beautiful not only for her face or body, but for all of her Christ like characteristics. Let them know that their worth is not linked to their appearances. Lastly, filter what enters your home, don’t feel pressured to be a cool parent, instead be a parent that has healthy boundaries for your children.
Copyright © Chere Williams, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved