I often say that it was really motherhood that launched me into body image activism. Watching my body change so intensely during pregnancy, seeing what it could do during childbirth, and the overwhelming period of post-partum was a crash-course in self-acceptance. I began to think that there must be a new way to relinquish the body shame of my past – for myself and my child.
Fast-forward a decade and I’m now the mother of three young children. Recently, in a radical act of self-love and body positivity, I stripped down to a blindfold and a black bikini as a fat, forty-year-old mom in a busy market downtown Boise, Idaho. I had markers in my hand and a chalkboard sign at my feet asking people to draw a heart on my body if they’d ever struggled with a self-esteem issue and believed all bodies are valuable. Afterwards I got a message from a mother with a page of homework from her six-year-old daughter, with an answer to the question “Have you ever been teased?” followed by a drawing and the answer “one time someone said my legs were fat.” There is a real war being waged right now on people of size and our children are the most vulnerable victims. Lay down your weapons and make peace with your body and teach your children to do the same. It’s revolutionary. Here are a few ways to do so
- Our family mantra is “All bodies are good bodies and there is no wrong way to have a body.”
- Read body positive books from the library. Some of our favorites are Your Body Is Awesome by Sigrun Danielsdottir and Brontorina by James Howe and Randy Cecil.
- Watch movies with strong female characters not defined by their looks, like Brave, Frozen, or Ponyo.
- Move your body for fun rather than out of fear and invite them to join in!
- Compliment them (and others) on things like courage, resilience, and smarts rather than physical attributes.
By Amy Pence-Brown