My earliest memory of thinking about my body size was in the forth grade on one of my first days as a student of a new school. Up until that point, it had never come up.
My friends came in all shapes and sizes and none of us thought much of it. I’m not sure if it was the age we were at, or being a stranger in a new place, but one of the girls in my new class made a comment about how heavy I was and my whole world shifted.
Looking back now, I was by no means the biggest girl in my class, far from it actually, but I was the newest and the shyest. Regardless of what was fact and what wasn’t, things were never the same again. Fast forward through more than 20 years of struggle, which included, among many other things; self-hate, depression, yo-yo diets, binge eating and starvation, until one day, when I found myself in a loving relationship and about to have a baby. Everything changed again.
I began to see more of the whole picture. I remember the way I felt while I watched close family members let their size chip away at their self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. I recalled all the time, thought and energy I had wasted on my obsessive focus on weight. I knew one thing, as I stood with my hand on my 30-some-week, pregnant belly: my children were not going to live like this. Letting the number on the scale, or what you THINK other people think about you, was never going to even be on my kids’ radar.
My husband has a normal, healthy relationship with food and his body. That is what I wanted for my children.
So, I enlisted the help of a counselor and began doing something I do best – research. I would become the role model I wanted for my children.
I did my homework and field tested many strategies. I made a plan, continually reviewed it, and made changes where needed. I started adopting healthy SUSTAINABLE habits and sticking with them. And even more importantly than fixing my physical health, I was working on getting my head right.
No more self-deprecating talk. No more obsession with eating this or not that. No more letting my appearance affect my confidence.
I wanted my children to have all of the time and energy I’ve put into one stupid goal of reaching a magic number on the scale, to be put to much better use. I wanted that for me too.
I look back on all of the things I could have done instead of making myself feel bad over the size written on the tag of my jeans. And I’ve learned that in reality, that number hasn’t even mattered to me. At my fittest and smallest, it was still “never good enough”.
Today, when I look at my 3 year old and 1 year old, I see their perfect little bodies, and their perfect sense of self-worth. I look at my body and see the woman my partner loves and the miraculous body that brought two perfect beings into this world and works hard to care for them each day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still a work in progress, but I no longer look back at pictures of my 13 year old self and sneer in disgust. I don’t say negative things (aloud – I’m still working on my internal self-talk) about myself. I am a work in progress, but already I’ve grown so much.
If my children were to begin today, to emulate my relationship with my body, I wouldn’t be 100% satisfied (there is always room for growth), but I know that I’ve done well so far. Sometimes when I look in the mirror and smile at myself, I can almost imagine the look of surprise on my 20-something-year old face. That girl NEVER smiled in satisfaction or admiration at her reflection, but this one does. And so will my babies.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall.
Does it matter if I’m short or tall?
If I twist and turn and sneer and puff.
Am I telling my children we aren’t good enough?
Self-esteem and body image seem to go hand in hand and all too often I hear people blaming society for the unreasonable expectations that are put on children these days.
Too many princesses with hourglass figures, too many heroes that have chiseled abs and strong jaw lines. We see depictions of perfection with enhanced photos and the folks in movies that have it all. All too often the leading men and women in movies, video games and advertisements don’t really represent the majority of the population.
Where do our children get the first whispers of who fits in where and what is beautiful or acceptable? “Do as I say, not as I do” only goes so far and we really need to lead by example.
As we, at Rosy Window Productions developed “Perfectly Me” to encourage young people to notice how well their bodies worked for them and how everyone is unique and fits just right, I couldn’t help but wonder how many Moms and Dads out there are feeling that way about their own physique.
Please, learn to love yourself, just the way you are! Sure you can aspire to be all that you can be, get some regular exercise, eat properly, maybe adjust your weight a few pounds either way, but do it for health sake. Let your children see that you love your body, that you take time for self-care because you value yourself and that you appreciate the way you are. It is not selfish or egotistical to take time for yourself, children that grow up with parents who look after themselves will be more inclined to do the same.
People come in all different shapes and sizes and if you marvel at how a 200 plus pound person can model bathing suites, the answer is simple, they are not hung up on how others will look at them – great body image – excellent self-esteem.
Imagine if you were hiking on a lovely summer day, you are on a beautiful path going up a slight slope. What if you said to yourself, "wow, my legs are so tired this slope seems like it's getting steeper," and with that thought, there is a low rumble under the earth and a hill pushes up beneath your feet!
Well, now you are faced with a steeper hill, without a pause you think, "holy cow! This is turning into a mountain of a hill," and again a rumple and a shake , you are faced with a mountain. “Oh great!” you say, “every mountain path has a narrow trail, rocks and crevices, I can sure tell what I’m in for!” Sure enough, the path gets treacherous.
Thankfully, this does not happen when hiking and when we embark on a trek, we have the proper gear. Our hiking experience helps us choose safe passage, and if we are going to take a road less traveled we have google maps, or friends that will help us find our way...
This is not the case when navigating some of the “molehills” that we come across in our lives, if we do not use logical thought an automatic, negative re-frame may happen and a much more treacherous mental story is created. This can transforms that molehill into a much more difficult to navigate, mountain.
Remember, you have your gear, your past experiences can guide you and if it’s uncharted territory you do have resources and people to turn to.
Keep the molehills small and enjoy the hike!
Our hats are off to Dr. Harvey Karp! On page 59 of a wonderful book called “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,” Dr. Karp shares a table of “Labels that Hurt – Descriptions that Help,” which depicts the very fundamentals of re-framing. How we can build our children’s self-esteem, just by being aware of the language we are using and what words actually inspire.
He points out that when a child appears to be bossy, they may be destined to leadership. He promotes the idea that most words we use which have negative connotations such as “hyper” can be easily replaced with their positive counter parts such as “energetic or passionate”. A very negative “nosy” is quite an endearing “curious”.
His list continues but instead of posting it here, I challenge you to add a comment of your favourite one word re-frames.
See the comment below to get you started!
Rosy Re-Frame: It’s all in the getting there.
The things we learned from Puppets, who knew? I can recall a stuffed green frog, peddling a bicycle, singing “Moving Right Along, do do do, do do do” and although I don’t remember all of the lyrics, I can remember the “getting there is half the fun” part.
It is kind of funny that in an existence that is essentially made up of a series of journeys, we always seem to be in a hurry to get to the next thing (whatever that may be). We know how important it is to be mindful, be present. You don’t have to stall out your day to be present in a moment, you simply need to take note of the smaller bits –
there were probably 30 or more moths on my front door this morning. Which was kind of cool, as they were sitting, not flapping their furry little selves around my face, the sunrise was gorgeous and so were the two deer I allowed my-self to take note of on the way to work. Curious how the day didn’t change, I still made it to work on time, and went about things the same way I would had I not stopped to count the moths, or notice the deer.
When we are cooped up, travelling along by plane or bus or car, we can fuss and fume and be impatient for the goal, or we can enjoy the scenery, catch up on sleep, reading, laugh and talk, isn’t that valuable time?
Maybe the destination is not what is intended to be the reward, perhaps it is the richness along the way, the fall colours, the smile of a friend or stranger, the time spent with family in a vehicle.
If we think about the ultimate journey that we are all on, it is not the destination we crave, it’s really each moment along the way.
Photo credit @jdmytruk
When I look out the window and see the fall colours beginning to emerge, or catch a glimpse of the V shape of a flock of Canadian Geese headed back south, I get to decide what I let my thoughts wander to. Is it the beauty of the crimsons and golds? The majesty of the Canadian Goose and how fortunate I am to catch a glimpse of the migration? OR is it that any day now I'll be sweeping the snow off of my car and freezing my nu-nu's off, complaining of the cold and dark and ALWAYS exaggerating how long and miserable winter is?
When the idea of our little production company was conceived about 3 years ago, the name Rosy Window was arrived at very purposefully - we all know that it is not healthy to look at the world through rose coloured glasses (that may be a bit naïve) but we can choose to see a rosier world if we look through the right frame.
We are all creatures of habits, this is true of all of our thought processes, so when something happens or when we are going through the day to day, the habit of positive thought or negative thought is very powerful, changing this instantaneous thought process is not as hard as it may appear. Practicing the art of re-framing is a great way to start, aware at first, purposely re-writing those thoughts, until it's no longer a conscious effort at all, it is simply noticing the "glass half full" first as the habitual thought response is positive.
We are beginning our 12 week "Re-Frame Campaign" we would love to hear from you. Can you think of an example of a perfect re-frame? Is there something that you need help re-framing? Send us a picture of your favourite window we would love to include it in our campaign.
From the time you are born, you grow and change. You are not the same person you were yesterday or the day before. Sometimes change happens naturally and sometimes you are striving to change for health or well-being, or to better your situation.
When you falter or you don't make progress as quickly as you think you should (instantly and flawlessly) the abuse begins - the internal brow beating that you are so good at giving yourself. Magnifying your "failure" and denying any sense of accomplishment at all.
Imagine if instead of talking yourself into giving up hope, you could have the same dialogue internally that you would have in supporting your best friend? Kind and considerate words of encouragement. Cheering yourself on as you navigate the journey that is life. Loving. Supporting. Encouraging. Imagine self-talk that lifts you up, carries you forward, and adds fuel to your fire.
Rosy Window Staff