In September, I had the opportunity to see Embrace—a documentary created by Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt. Here’s the trailer so you can see what it’s about:
I’ve been thinking about doing a post about this movie since the minute it started. The facts are scary and sad:
- 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies.
- By middle school, 40-70% of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15.
The vast majority of women—starting at a very young age- are striving for an ideal body shape that is simply not attainable for 95% of the world’s population. I am 5’2 with strong legs and a small chin—regardless of my BMI and the number on the scale, I will never, ever look like a model. I could work out 4 hours a day and eat a diet of nothing but clouds and good thoughts and I’ll never grace the cover of a fashion magazine.
Guess what? Even the models don’t look like the pictures we see in the magazine or in advertisements. Air brushing is no secret but I don’t think the majority of women—let alone the children—that see these images realize how pervasive it is. The people you see in the vast majority of magazines and in ads have been altered—air brushed to look skinnier, lighter, slimmer, tauter than a human body can ever be expected to look.
This increasing pressure to fit this unattainable mold is causing a rise in eating disorders among children—girls and boys. Kids as young as 6 are worried about their weight and have thought about dieting. People, that’s crazy. And sad. And it makes me furious.
My body is freaking miraculous—despite PCOS and other issues, it was pregnant 5 times and nurtured two of those pregnancies for 39+ weeks. I grew two of the most important, smartest, funniest people I know. My breast nurtured those children for a total of 2 years and 8 months.
My legs have run numerous 5Ks. My arms have carried babies, held my husband and hugged my family and friends. My hands have held literally 1000s of books, made countless meals and typed out my feelings and thoughts daily for years. I’ve walked on beaches, in the woods, through the streets of Venice, down the aisle on my wedding day and up and down the hallways in my house with crying babies millions of times—all without a thought.
But this knowledge— this ability to relish what my body can do—doesn’t mean that I don’t look in the mirror and wish I couldn’t melt away 20+ pounds. That I don’t wish I was taller, that my hair was fuller, that my stomach was a hell of a lot flatter. But I damn well refuse to let those thoughts rob me of one minute of joy.
The problem is, I’m 38. This self-acceptance and love took a long time to develop. Truthfully, it’s still evolving as I figure out how to make myself the healthiest version of me and make peace with the fact that I’ll never, ever own another swimsuit that doesn’t have “slenderizing” somewhere in the name.
So if it’s taken me this long, what chance do my amazing kids have? I look at my 10 year old and my 8 year old and they don’t know body shame yet. My son thinks he’s got muscles for days and my daughter thinks she’s the fastest runner in the world. They don’t compare their bodies to their friends often and when they do compare, they shrug differences off as interesting and move on. If I could bottle that indifference and sprinkle it over them daily, I would.
It seems like as a mother, I’m always advocating and working hard to make sure my children live a good life. I want to them to grow up to be healthy and whole—people who do appreciate the bodies they’ve been graced with even if those bodies don’t fit society’s very narrow definition of beauty.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do this, but I do know education will play a big role in this. I want my kids to see documentaries like Embrace and others like it when they are old enough. I want them to see that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that beauty is a lot more than skin deep. We’re going to continue to stress health over weight and kindness above all else and hope that the media bombarding my kids daily doesn’t cause too much damage.
So tell me, how are you going to work with your kids to ensure they have a healthy body image?
If you’d like to see Embrace—and trust me, you DO—please visit the Body Image Movement Facebook Page. You can find screenings in your area and see how to order the documentary from iTunes.