“Y’all, I need to tell you something.
In this day and age, if you have a child, you absolutely, unequivocally, without hesitation MUST talk to them about their body.
Because if you don’t, believe me, every billboard, commercial, random dude, social media post, and Hollywood movie will.
Before the word ‘thigh gap’ enters your daughter’s hemisphere, talk to her.
Before the idea of ‘fat’ crosses your son’s mind, talk to him.
Before your baby girl compares herself to the cheerleader who got the date with the boy she liked. Before your son realizes there is a magazine standard his body is competing against.
You MUST talk to them.
Tell your son about how his legs are for running and jumping and kicking serious butt.
Tell your daughters about how her arms are for pull-ups and punches and raising other people up.
Teach your children how a smile is an expression of joy — not some tool for attracting others.
Teach your children that food is fuel. That it should provide nutrition and make them feel strong.
Teach them it’s okay if things are delicious for the sake of deliciousness.
Cake is freaking amazing. Teach your babies to eat the cake.
Don’t impart the shame. Don’t even give a hint of that garbage, invisible standard.
Parents, this is UP TO YOU.
You have to proactively teach these things. Be wise the world is hard at work against you, believe me.
If you don’t want your babies to feel the ache with self-loathing, get to work.
Give your children the forcefield contentment. Train them in the weapons of exercise and nutrition. Equip them with the armor of self-love, self-care, and self-confidence.
I mean, isn’t this all we want for our children? To feel strong and beautiful and confident — without needing outside affirmation?
I think so. And I think you want this, too.
And if that’s the case, I have one more thing you need to hear. Buckle up, because this is the hardest part.
You can teach your daughters EVERY GOOD THING about her body, but it won’t mean JACK if it doesn’t start with you.
You can teach your son about strength and health and confidence, but it won’t do a DAYUM THING if you aren’t modeling those things at home.
The words you speak—
‘I’m so fat.’
‘I hate this outfit.’
‘My chin looks dumb when I smile.’
—those words will become the inner voice of your children.
What are you training them to hear?
Please, mamas. (And you too, dads.)
If you see beauty in your children. If you see a fire worth protecting in their hearts. If you see an innocent confidence that still exists.
Fight to protect it.
And let that fight START WITH YOU.
You have to love yourself if you want to teach your children self-love. You have to believe in yourself if you expect your children to be confident. And you can’t convince your babies to love their bodies if you spend half your day picking apart every crease and wrinkle in your human flesh.
In short, friends:
Become the change you want to see in your children. Buy into the idea that you are ENOUGH.
And maybe, just maybe, the kind words we speak over ourselves will become the inner voice of our happy, confident, beautiful children.
I can think of nothing I’d like more.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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