Positive body image – what are your experiences?

John Adams —  November 6, 2013 — 5 Comments

Some months back I wrote about positive body image and what fathers could do to promote it in their children. It’s always great to receive feedback on the things you write and so I was very pleased to be contacted by Stephanie Rosillio who, amongst other things, is the co-founder of Be Real Talks.

L-R Sharon Baker, Alice Jackson (Curvy Kate model) and Stephanie Rosilio at the original Be Real event in June this year.

L-R Sharon Baker, Alice Jackson (Curvy Kate model) and Stephanie Rosilio at the original Be Real event in June this year.

If you haven’t heard of Be Real Talks, the first event took place in London in June. It was a sell-out and the theme was “why size doesn’t matter, explode the beauty and diet myths.”

I confess I wasn’t there, but it was marketed as a “feel good” event that was a cross “between a theatre experience and comedy club with a funky workshop element.” In other words, it wasn’t a formal lecture.

Speakers at the event came from a diverse range of backgrounds; comedian Deborah France, performance poet Hollie McNish and Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist who is famed for speaking out against the practice of airbrushing were among those who took part. A second event is on the horizon, but more about that in just a moment. 

With two young daughters, the issue of positive body image is one that’s particularly close to my heart. I have real concerns about increasing misogyny in the media and the pressure my children will face to confirm to some unachievable ideal. It’s an area where, sadly, I feel society is moving backwards not forwards.

Needless to say, this isn’t an issue that solely affects girls and women. Men are increasingly having body confidence issues and this is something that can’t be ignored.

As I said, a second event is on the horizon. The Be Real team is keen to hear of the experiences of parents, particularly fathers:

·         If you’re a father, what do you do to promote positive body image among your children?

·         If you’re a mother, does your partner do anything to address this issue? If not, why do you think that is?

·         As a father, what are your concerns about positive body image and do you think your children are under pressure to confirm to certain ideals?

·         Have you heard of any examples of your children coming under pressure to look a certain way?

Please leave a comment below and keep an eye on the Be Real website for more information about the next talk.I’ll say no more, but there may be plans afoot to get one or two men involved in the next event.

Before signing off I’m going to leave you with one final thought; there are more regulations governing how you can airbrush a car in an advertisement than a human being. That Toyota’s headlights; airbrush at your peril but that woman’s breasts; do your worst. It’s a shocking fact but sadly one that doesn’t surprise me.

                                          

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John Adams

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5 responses to Positive body image – what are your experiences?

  1. It all starts from birth, doesn’t it, when we proudly announce not only the sex, but also the weight of our newly born child. We might even say that our child is ‘normal’ or without handicap or some other insane measure of physical ‘worth’.

    The oldest of my 2 daughters is only 4, and already she is drawn to scrawny Barbie dolls, Disney princesses with lives centered around their beauty, and other such crap. My youngest daughter has a dummy which on the box proudly states “my first brand” – all these things disgust me *growl*.

    I’m all for letting my daughters be who they are, and for accepting them as they are. Fat or thin, intelligent or not, philosophical or shallow, whatever. As long as they know that they’re loved and appreciated, however they are.

    I’m sure that if they know they have that support from me (and their mother) then they’ll go through life with that inner sense of self worth.

    So what do I do? Just love ‘em!

    • Fantastic comment Paul and one I can very much relate to. I’m shocked to hear about this “my first brand” business ‘though. That’s a new one to me and sadly demonstrates the pressure to ‘conform’ from an insanely young age.

  2. I think that what Paul says about some body image issues starting from birth is spot on. I remember being in shop once and the shop owner (who I’d never met before) asking how old our son was. After I responded, he said ‘oh he’s small, was he premature?’, which I thought was more than a tad tactless. If there had been any issues that were having an impact on his growth, I was hardly going to talk about them with someone I didn’t know in the middle of a shop.

    I’ve heard that eating disorders among men are on the rise, which I’d guess is in part a consequence of body image issues. There are so many magazines with things on the cover such as ‘get a six pack in two weeks’ etc. on the front cover that promote a certain image of masculinity. These sorts of magazines are generally nowhere near holistic enough to discuss fitting in exercise as a parent and the range of different forms of exercise. I like going running when I can, which is not really ‘high intensity’ in most people’s books. However, it’s something that I enjoy on so many levels due to the sense of freedom. I’d be bored if I was just pushing weights and downing energy shakes.

    I’d love to see a more holistic sort of a men’s magazine that focused on a lot more than getting an athletic body and how to be desirable to women. Sport and exercise is important as part of a healthy lifestyle and is a lot more than a means to an end for folk who want to build their abs or getting a six pack.

    • Wow, that was one tactless shop keeper! i like your point about men’s magazines making guys anxious about becoming attractive to women. Without a doubt these publications are going in the direction of women’s magazines and putting men under pressure.

      Much to think about there Jonathan and thanks for taking the time to comment.

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