“I look too fat in that”.
“Oh, that makes me look thin… I’ll take it”.
These are phrases I think in my head on a daily basis. They are phrases I hear other people say, also on a daily basis.
But why do we put ourselves under so much pressure to be thin, or in society’s eyes ‘look good’?
It’s no secret that I recently lost a baby. It’s also no secret that I had an eating disorder when I was in my early 20s. So it’s fair to say that post baby, post miscarriage and post the associated fitness I have lost along with it all, I’m feeling a bit out of condition at the moment.
But with all of that going on, thanks to my old friend anorexia nervosa, I have an awareness of how far it can go before it becomes a problem.
I know how young these kind of thoughts and phrases can impact how we feel about our body image.
I grew up in a very happy house. My family were and still are amazing. We had a great time and I love my parents and brother dearly. At home, Dad was a PE teacher, rugby player, aerobics lover and generally enjoyed health and fitness. Mum did what she could to keep fit whilst working and caring for her family usually trying a new diet most weeks. My brother was always ‘the sporty one’ excelling at whatever he tried (annoying).
There was always a focus on fitness, staying fit, what we ate and how we looked.
Now, I’m not blaming my family for my eating issues – it’s a whole bunch of other reasons that I’ve managed to decode over the years. In fact, I am glad my family were healthy as it brought a lot of positive to the table. I am just saying that even as a young child, I was aware of the desire to stay fit and look good.
As an adult, along with all of the other messages that I am exposed to today – both good and bad – it’s just a voice inside my head. I need to stay fit and eat well and try not to look ‘fat’. Luckily these days, I am in control of it, but it’s still there.
So as part of the Be Real campaign for body image, I want to highlight how we need to behave around our little ones to give them the best chance at not ending up like us body conscious 30 somethings.
Our kids are going to have it so much worse than us.
All we had was those crap Just 17 and Sugar magazines, and they weren’t really showing off a lot of flesh. Kids these days are exposed to body image on every social media platform they consume, and let’s face it, that’s a lot of content a lot of the time.
They will always be judging themselves based on how others are being judged.
A global study commissioned by Dove revealed that six out of 10 girls opt out of important activities because they’re worried about the way they look. Studies in Finland, China and the U.S. show that girls’ relationship with the way they look has an impact on their academic performance: girls who think they are overweight, irrespective of their actual weight, have lower grades. And the negative impact of low body confidence continues later on in life, with 17 per cent of women claiming they won’t go to a job interview and 8 per cent missing work on days when they feel bad about the way they look.
So as my part of the Dove #PledgeToBeReal campaign, I pledge to:
- Talk about health and fitness in a positive way around Lady P – no more, “oh I need to go for a run today because I’ve eaten so much”, instead “yeah, I’m going for a run today because it makes me feel better and I enjoy it”
- Teach her to treat food with the 80:20 rule – allow her sweet treats as part of a balanced diet and not highlight them as ‘naughties’
- Teach her that she is beautiful however she looks and changes – I know most parents tell their kids this anyway, but I really want her to believe that others are also beautiful however they look
I’ll start by posting the following picture of myself that I hate, but hey, that’s kind of the point, right?
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and too believe it’s a super important issues, show support for this campaign by using the hashtag #PledgeToBeReal on social media.