When I was young I had a couple of naturally skinny friends. I was not fat, but these girls were very thin. We started to notice the differences between us as we got a little older, and in fourth grade or so I started to feel like the fat girl in the group. I wasn't nuts with negative body image or anything, but these thoughts were compounded as puberty hit and I rounded out noticably. I struggled with body image a lot in high school, trying different exercises and flirting with bulimia. I still have moments when I dislike parts of my body.
I think my body image issues are actually more the norm than anything disordered in our society, which is pretty sad as far as I'm concerned. I have a lot more respect for my body these days because of what it can do physically. Yoga has made me strong and mindful of my movements and my breathing, and I'm in the best shape of my life. Yet I still worry about my appearance at times, in an irrational way.
I have been constantly conscious of how I talk about appearance since I've had kids. I can honestly say I have never asked my husband if I look fat in something, and we don't talk about dieting or losing weight. But, my 6 year old daughter Zee has already made comments that strike fear in my heart. She said her belly is too big (and now will not even say the word belly). I have no idea where these ideas have come from but I am going to be all over them in an instant.
I believe yoga has significantly improved my body image, and multiple research studies support this, as well as it's effect on mindful eating. I hope to introduce Zee to some kids yoga at this impressionable age so she can feel more secure in her own skin rather than relying on external validation. I am also reading a book on fostering positive body esteem in kids (if it's good I'll post a reference later). I never imagined I would have to worry about this so soon!
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