“Does This Make Me Look Fat?” How to Model Positive Body Image for your Kids

You’ve Got to Model Positive Body Image


Yesterday I was exercising in the living room with my daughter nearby, when my husband walked by and commented that my legs looked really strong. “Ugh,” I said. “I hate my legs.” My daughter stared at me for a moment. I tried to backpedal, “I mean… I don’t hate my legs. They’re strong and healthy and they help me get from place to place!” She looked a little confused.

So You Can Talk the Talk…

Although many of us have grand ideas of teaching our children to respect and appreciate the different shapes and sizes of others’ bodies and their own, it amounts to nil if we cannot live out this truth in our own lives. We may talk the talk of positive body image, but do we walk the walk?


Walking the Walk…

My daughters often see Mom exercising, and I encourage them to do so, too. I often emphasize that working out makes us strong and healthy, gives us energy, and makes us feel good. I’m careful not to say that I’m exercising to look better. Usually.

But even those of us with the best of intentions may be sending subtle (or not-so-subtle) signals to our kids about how we should regard the appearance of others’ bodies and our own. I myself have been guilty of some of these. How about you?


3 Body Positive Body Image Reframes:

  • If we eat pizza and ice cream every day, we’re all going to get fat.

Body-positive alternative: Pizza and ice cream are delicious, but since fat and sugar don’t benefit our bodies, we should only have them on occasion.

  • This dress makes me look huge. I can’t wear it anymore.

Body-positive alternative: This dress isn’t a great fit for me. 

  • If I ate nothing but carrots and lettuce, I’d be skinny like Sarah’s mom, too.

Body-positive alternative: Say nothing. Don’t compare yourself to others.

W.E.B. Dubois said, “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” If you want to encourage your kids to have a positive view of their own appearance, you must model that positivity in the way you speak about yourself and others.  Keep your tongue in check, and remember: your kids are always watching.

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