The Maternal Influence: Shaping Children’s Body Image and Perception
My mother had a significant impact on how I perceived myself and how I perceived my body as a child, as I recall my early years. My mother suffered from postpartum depression that led to unrealistic expectations of how a body is “supposed” to look after birth. This led to body image issues that she had to fight really hard to overcome. And that made its way into my consciousness but at the end of it all, she was the one who said and I quote, “remember, your worth is not defined by the reflection in the mirror. Nurture your mind and soul, and let your confidence blossom, for true beauty lies in self-acceptance and embracing the magnificence of your unique self.”
From an early age, our mothers have a big impact on how we see ourselves, including how we see our bodies. In this blog post, I’ll go into the maternal role in children’s body image and perception development and look at the ways that attitudes, behaviours, and communication from the mother can affect a child’s sense of self.
Role models for mothers: The Mirror Effect.
My mother is the only role model I have. Why? Because she went from refusing to look in the mirror to now dancing in front of it. She has never failed to instil that image for me. She taught me to be grateful about the fact that all my body parts are constantly working for me. So how could I ever hate on a body that keeps me alive every second?
Mothers frequently act as their children’s main role models, especially during the formative years. The actions, attitudes, and beliefs of mothers about their own bodies are observed and internalized by children. It significantly helps a child’s development of a positive body image when a mother exhibits a healthy body image and engages in self-acceptance practices. On the other hand, if a mother has issues with her body image, criticizes herself, or expresses dissatisfaction with her appearance, it may unintentionally cause the child to develop similar unfavorable viewpoints.
Communication is Essential.
Communication is one skill I’ve honed because of my mother. She taught me that communication with yourself, good or bad, will always manifest into that reflection of you. So why don’t you make a reflection that makes you proud when you stand in front of it?
The way mothers talk about their bodies and appearance has a big impact on how kids view their own bodies. Children’s healthy body image can be cultivated through empowering and upbeat conversations that emphasize strength, health, and self-acceptance. On the other hand, making negative remarks about one’s appearance or receiving them can have a significant negative impact on a child’s self-esteem and lead to issues with negative body image. Mothers should make an effort to communicate in a way that promotes body positivity and recognizes the individuality of each person.
Protecting Kids from Idealistic Media: Media Literacy.
My mother would sit with me and watch movies constantly. She always said, “bahaar se toh aadhi se zyada duniya sundar hai, lekin andar se sirf ginne chune log sundar hote hai (translation: more than half of this world is beautiful from the outside but only a few are beautiful from their hearts) Strive to be that for this world”
Children are frequently exposed to media images that promote unrealistic and unreachable beauty standards in the modern digital age. The ability to critically analyze and contest the messages presented by the media is a skill that mothers can play a significant role in teaching to their kids. Mothers can help their children develop a more realistic and positive perception of their bodies by addressing the unrealistic nature of these images and highlighting the value of diversity and self-acceptance.
Healthful Lifestyle vs. Weight Focus
There was a time in my life when I was considered overweight. My mother never really left in the dark. She would tell me to do what makes me happy. But at the same time, she was never ignorant. She would make sure our family would always have a hearty and healthy meal. This led to my love towards a healthy lifestyle and rest is history.
While it’s crucial for mothers to promote a healthy lifestyle in their kids, it’s equally crucial to remove the emphasis from physical attributes like weight and appearance. Instilling healthy habits without overemphasizing physical appearance can be accomplished by focusing on the value of making nutrient-dense food choices, regular exercise, and overall well being. Mothers can foster a positive body image in their children that is based on self-care rather than external validation by promoting a holistic approach to health.
My takeaways from this journey
The development of a child’s body perception and body image is greatly influenced by their mothers. Mothers can make a big difference in their children’s ability to accept themselves and their bodies by modelling positive body image, encouraging open and empowering
communication, promoting media literacy, and putting a strong emphasis on holistic health. Mothers must be aware of their influence and take proactive steps to foster a positive body image in their children. By doing this, they will help them raise self-assured adults who value and embrace their individuality.
To conclude, I would like to thank my mom for always teaching about the things that actually matter. Physical appearance for me has never been a big deal because physical beauty fades, what you’re left with is your mind and how you’ve nurtured it to be kind towards others and most importantly, yourself.