As I sit here and type, my chest feels tight, my fingers as though they are on fire and I can't get my words down fast enough! I have never felt more inspired to write a blog on the topic I am most passionate about - leading by example for the younger generation.
And oh how my passion has only grown since becoming a mum to a beautiful baby girl, who is currently 3 months old and super delicious!
The other day I read a Facebook comment posted by a friend, which stirred in me a sudden urgency to rally all the mums out there who are willing to take action for a very precious cause. The post spoke about my friend's young 5 year old daughter who mentioned that despite her dancing and exercising, she was just as chubby as before. This mum is an amazing woman (more than she knows), and her daughter is such a delight. This seems like it has come completely left of field and so unexpected. The 5 year old probably doesn't even understand exactly what she is saying. However we shouldn't ignore something like that, in fact we need to be as proactive as ever in this area.
It is no secret that women all over the world struggle with self image woes. And our daughters are not protected from the same torments. We all do our best; telling them they are beautiful. But the negative thoughts still creep in. We like to try and pin the problem entirely on today's media drenched society. But I would like to pose a different opinion (if I may).
I will be the first to admit that I still struggle with negative thoughts regarding myself and my appearance despite the success I have had in overcoming a serious eating disorder. And in no way am I trying to dismiss the amazing, beautiful and hard work of a mum (since becoming a member of the very exclusive 'mum's club' I have more respect and compassion towards mums than ever before). However I do want to call on all mums to rise up against this epidemic and dig a little deeper, reach a little higher to take further action. The media should never be an influence that educates our children on what is beautiful and acceptable to society. We need to remember our roles as mums; we are, first and foremost, their role models and should never take that job lightly.
Everything we say, do, even think doesn't go unnoticed and helps shape and mould our young daughters' minds. For most of their childhood life, they look to us as their all consuming source of life, understanding and security. What a privilege we have, a mantle to carry proudly; we are mind shapers. We have the capacity to nurture and let flourish the next generation of musical talent, mathematical genius, sporting brilliance and much much more.
Telling our girls they are beautiful and perfect just the way they are is a great start. But think about all those times we have glanced at ourselves in the mirror and criticised what we see? She is watching. She trusts us, wants to be just like us... and will mimic us. All of which creates the foundation of her own personality, lifestyle habits and more.
We have to do more. The responsibility lies in our hands. We have to take action together to help prevent our girls growing up and repeating the same mistakes we have made, or developing serious body-image problems such as eating disorders. It starts here - in our own homes. When we talk about our bodies we need to do so with endearment and self-respect. Tell your partner that you love the shape of your butt. Tell yourself, while looking in the mirror, that you are beautiful, strong, important, smart, kind, talented. What a difference we could make in our young girls' development with this change of heart towards ourselves.
I recently read a great post on the Mamamia website that talks about looking at our own conduct to help set an example for the younger generation. Read it here and be inspired to do the same!
Here are 4 points to help instill a positive self-image in our daughters:
1. Be aware. Listen out for negative comments coming from either her, her friends or people she interacts with (including yourself).
2. Always be one step ahead. Educate your girls first before the media or anyone else does. Give your girl a great foundation to stand on so that when she is exposed to false information, she knows the truth. It starts with you - how you view yourself.
3. Remember you are her number 1 role model. Don't take that job lightly. She looks to you more than you know. So be the example she deserves. Speak with love towards yourself and your body. Take time every day to make a positive comment about yourself so she can see and hear you. Respect your body by being healthy, balanced and whole. It's not just about what you say, but also what you eat and how you present yourself.
4. Let your light shine. Be happy, be comfortable in your own skin. Be yourself. Show her how to love life even when you feel vulnerable. Show her that love starts from within; you can only love others as much as you love yourself.
Maybe we all ought to have a practical reminder, like the girls at Mamamia do: A jar that collects gold coins every time we make a negative comment towards ourselves. Then while we are becoming aware of our own thought-life, we are saving a little money perhaps to give to a charity or invest in our daughter's future.
Love you ladies - please be inspired today!