It's bopo, mofo
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
All through my children’s lives, I’ve tried to be very open and unembarrassed about my body with them. I’ve made it a goal in my parenting to not show shame, to not hide myself in front of them, with my reason being not wanting them to think that I think my body is anything to be ashamed of.
Body positivity (#bopo) is a very new concept to me but I want my children to at least start off thinking that people are OK no matter what their body size or shape.
The result of this is twofold: firstly, I have no privacy. Like, at all. Both of my children still feel it's acceptable to walk in on me in the shower because they need to go to the toilet RIGHT NOW, or to open the door to ask me the VERY IMPORTANT question I couldn't hear because I had the door closed. Because I was on the loo.
Side note: VIQ (Very Important Question) being something like "what day is it Mum?" Saturday "Do I have to get ready for school?" No! Or something equally (un)important anyway.
The second result is that they are pretty comfortable in their skin at home as well as with any of us being naked around each other (particularly my son, but I wonder if that isn't a 'boy thing'?!). I can't say that it's resulted in my daughter being totally happy with her shape (she's 10, fit and lithe but sometimes 'fat' apparently) but then I'm not her only influence in her life. Unfortunately. Also they will both shy away from my underarms if they remember because, well, stubble.
But now that they're 8 and 10 years old though, my question is: how long is that OK for? Is it OK to continue to be naked around your children when they're school-age? Am I being a bit too liberal? Maybe I'm setting them up for long term issues precisely because they were led to believe by their hippy mother that it was OK to let it all hang out.
By the way, I don't want to give the impression that I'm some kind of naturist here. I do actually spend most of my time in clothes and you won't find me on any 'special' beaches or anything!
I'm wondering though if there are other, less naked, ways of demonstrating body positivity to them? I can talk to them about not judging someone on their body or looks but I've had way too many eye rolls now to think that talking is the best way to get through to them. No, leading by example is definitely the way forward. And that's partly why I've started this blog with the intention of using unedited photos and generally being a little less focussed on my appearance.
In my previous post, Frankly my dear, I briefly talked about my feelings around my weight but there are two photos I want to share with you at this point. Both of them make me uncomfortable.
This first photo is pretty old. In fact it's from 2001; I'm 26 years old, 5'11", approximately 9 stone and a size 8-10. That would have made my BMI 17.5 or underweight verging into the red zone, according to the NHS BMI calculator.
And yet I can remember that morning, doing my usual panic about what the hell was I going to wear because I was so FAT and DISGUSTING.
I look at me in that photo and recalling the thoughts going round my head, not to mention what I did to make sure I was as thin as I was, makes me very uncomfortable now. I can recognise that I was in fact suffering from body dysmorphia and anorexia. I did for years in fact and I'm still not completely recovered. Which is why this next, much more recent, photo makes me uncomfortable too.
This was me last month: 42 years old, still 5'11", approximately 12.5 stone and a size 14. My current BMI is 24.4. A.k.a healthy.
And yet I can remember that morning, just as every morning, doing my usual panic about what the hell was I going to wear because I was so FAT and DISGUSTING.
But it's OK, or it's getting better anyway. I now understand that it's crazy and pointless to feel and think that way. That they are there no matter what I look like. In fact, I can now even recognise that my weight, or really my visual appearance, has no relevance to my mental and emotional wellbeing at all. Or my value as a human being.
But how I can share that learning with my children is something that I'm still trying to figure out.
Instagram, again, is my friend. Opening me up to all sorts of amazing women (and even a few men) who are focussing on celebrating their own bodies and value as well as other peoples. But I want other, physical reminders of this school of thought. Things that can remind me and my children to sit on those negative thoughts and values until they just shut up and go away please.
It'd be great to hear your thoughts on any of this and, especially, if you've got any suggestions for what I can do or get to help my children and their self-image. Comment below or, if you'd rather, send me a private message instead - it'd be great to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.