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Old 01-25-2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?

I think it probably varies from child to child.

My mom rarely wore make-up, didn't try to keep up with the latest fashions, didn't appear to be obsessed with her looks. She was pretty thin without much effort (more of a boyish figure type of woman I guess...not too curvy or buxom, or well-endowed IYKWIM). She encouraged us to exercise for HEALTH reasons, not for staying thin/attractive.

In theory, setting a great example?!

My mom is hard-pressed to hold her tongue about anything. I remember being 6 or 7, and she enrolled me in a ballet class w/the 3-4 year olds (since my skill level was brand-new-to-ballet). I felt like she was not a supportive parent, rather then encouraging me, she would comment on how graceful the OTHER little girls were. I didn't want to go to the class any more, partly b/c I sucked and felt like the awkward older weird kid who shouldn't be there, and partly b/c I felt bad hearing about the other kids doing so great, who were more flexible and more graceful than me.

When I started to need a bra, she teased me/embarrassed me about it. When I started styling my hair and wanting to wear make-up, she teased and/or criticized my choices. When I wanted to shave my legs etc, she said I didn't need to (I was 14 and starting high school). She didn't want me to wear make-up, or shave...I don't think she wanted me to grow up! When I wanted to wear nothing but black clothing, she said I was weird and looked bad etc. Looking back, yes my choices sucked most of the time But why couldn't she just shut up about it?

I'm not obsessed with how I look, compared to some people. But it IS important to me. I like to wear make-up and dress nice, I don't feel like I have "natural beauty" or "natural grace". I generally feel negative about how I look, but not negative enough to do anything extreme about it.

I don't know if this is because of the things my mom said to me, or just because that's how I am, but I know that with MY boys (I don't have any girls) I'm not going to make fun of them or comment about how the other kids are better than them. At this point in my life, I can get along with my mom and be friendly, but we are not friends. I enjoy spending short periods of time with her, or talking about some of our common interests (gardening or sewing, for example) but that's about it. We don't do any "girl stuff" or any of the typical mother-daughter bonding things that I've read about.

My advice would be to compliment your children's positive attributes, avoid talking about other children's beautiful or wonderful whatevers, and try not to tease them about things that might be an area where they're insecure. I generally felt insecure about how I looked, so having my mom tease me about my choices didn't make me feel better about myself.
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