I’m going to be moderating a panel at this summer’s BlogHer conference how we blog/feel about our kids and their and our body image. There is a tentative panel description at the end of this blog.
This description is where my thinking is right now, but there’s time for lots of thought.
I know that in raising my daughters, I was in a constant dialogue with the television and other media, saying “that’s wrong”, “real people don’t look like that” etc, etc. We’d talk about how kids got treated at school. We’d talk about how it was different for black, Latino, or Asian friends or for that matter thin blue-eyed blond friends. We’d talk about how it was different and sometimes the same for boys and girls. And we talked about how outside pressures from the culture shaped this. It was one of our important ongoing discussions throughout their childhoods, and we’re still having those conversations now.
I’m lucky that I didn’t have a lot of body hatred to share. I see friends who really wanted their kids to feel good about themselves, but talk about their own bodies in ways that got quickly reflected by their children. And I did have to watch how I talked about my body and other peoples’ bodies with some care.
I could help my daughters to develop good armor but the world will still be throwing spears at them.
My daughters are 10 years apart. I watched the standards of thinness get smaller and smaller as time passed. My younger daughter grew up in much more obsessionally thin times and that’s only gotten worse. They both grew up when harassment of teen age girls, especially young teen age girls, about their bodies was considered “normal” boyish behavior.
Some things have changed for the better. If you look for it, there is good body-positive information out there – whether it’s size positive, trans positive, color positive etc. No kid with web access needs to feel like they’re “the only one like them.”
They also grew up before the intense sexualization of children. Nine year olds didn’t wear tee shirts that said “hot babe inside” and young boys clothes didn’t have to have a cool manly styling. No one thought that children should be “buffed.”
Media meant movies, TV and print. It seemed like an endless barrage then, and those constant pressures have only increased with the multi-media world of the web. And the other side of access is that kids can find pro-anorexia sites.
On the other hand, the support of an extended web community of individuals was just starting to form when my younger daughter was growing up. One of the things I love about blogging and the feminist bloggers’ world is how much we talk to each other usefully. I love that mommybloggers can find shared communities of ideas outside of their physical neighborhoods. I’m interested in how much difference this can make.
Anyway these are some of the things I’m thinking about. I’m curious about folks’ ideas and experiences – either as kids or moms or all the other varied relationships we have with children. (I learned a lot from my teen age belly dance students.)
We blog about our kids’ self-images a lot, and much of it is how they feel about their bodies and the ones around them. And often we’re trying to deal with the negative stuff they bring home. “You’re ugly, you’re too fat, your eyes are wrong, your color is icky” etc. We want to help our kids to feel good about themselves. We blog to share our experiences and help each other to do this better.
Sometimes it’s really hard to do if we don’t feel good about our own bodies. Sometimes they’ll pick up the wrong messages from us. And it doesn’t help that we live in a world that markets the “super model” look to 9 year old girls.
Children of all races, sizes, ages, and body types deserve to feel good about themselves: how they look, and how their bodies feel. On this panel Mommybloggers and other Moms will discuss helping our kids to like themselves as they are.