Learning about The Beauty Myth and fat etc.

(56 Posts)
Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 13:37:50

Hello smile I used to post here all the time - FlamingoBingo for anyone who remembers me!

I'm on a mission to truly, unconditionally love my body - initially motivated by having four daughters who I want not to internalise The Beauty Myth. So I have my books piled by my bed:

The Beauty Myth I'm half-way through.
Fat is a Feminist Issue
Susie Orbach on Eating

I'm reading fantastic blogs like Dances with Fat.

I'm finding inspiration from articles like this about allowing yourself to be photographed for your children and this about not refusing to wear a swimsuit to play with your kids on the beach.

FWIW I'm a size 12/14, 5'1". I lost a load of weight a couple of years ago but have put it all back on. I dance at least twice a week and am fairly fit and very healthy.

Anyone else want to talk about this? What are you doing to support your daughters' body image? What work on your own issues are you having to do? How's it working for you? Have you got any body-love inspiring resources to share?

TheSameBoat Sun 20-Jul-14 14:16:57

I am on the same mission OP! So thanks for the resources.

Can't say about DDs as I don't have any but I would say my friend who has 2 DDs does an incredible job with them. She encourages them to be sporty, comments on their strength and if she compliments their looks she does so equally with their personalities.

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 14:32:23

I'm not sure encouraging people to be sporty is helpful, either, though. I'm wondering how about how to undo 'encouragement' I experienced in childhood that did harm to my relationship with food and physical activity. I've also read Diet Recovery 2 by Matt Stone - all about the harm dieting does to our health. I have a book about children and food he's written that I need to read too: Food Ninjas. And another book called Kids, Carrots and Candy. There's a lot out there about the harm that having 'good' and 'bad' foods does to us. All these judgements!

MontyGlee Sun 20-Jul-14 15:56:14

I can't answer this from a DS perspective, but I'm interested in the general topic.

I find it very difficult to find the right balance between various factors.

Firstly is the shame that I think I'm supposed to feel about a certain amount of body fat. Within this are two factors 1. I'm not supposed to be fat and, 2, if I am, I'm supposed to be actively trying to do something about it. As someone observed very well on another thread, you'll get support if you're fat and trying really hard to do something about it, but god help you if you laugh too much. I want to try and ignore all this and concentrate on:

A lot of people aren't actually as bothered as I think they are and a bit of body-confidence actually goes a long way. Think Beth Ditto etc. BUT

I also know that food is becoming ever more addictive and that bad food is easier/cheaper than good food. Modern lifestyles are sedentary in nature and therefore I really ought to be careful about exercise and diet.

Getting it right is tough.

MontyGlee Sun 20-Jul-14 16:21:17

Not DS, DD! Acronyms confused

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 16:51:59

But fat doesn't equal ill-health. In fact, the opposite. It's been known for decades now that women, in particular, are healthier and live longer if they're a bit overweight. It's the fear of ill-health, dieting and self-hatred that causes ill-health, not the fat itself. Except in the case of morbid obesity...which isn't going to happen to someone who loves themselves unconditionally because it is an addiction, which is a mental illness, and, in general, happens to people who keep trying to diet rather than people who are happy and healthy and overweight.

The shame thing is a real issue, isn't it? It's so awful to read some of the things people write about overweight women - that awful unsisterly Liz Kelsey article made me so furious. Daily Hate link

MontyGlee Sun 20-Jul-14 17:06:45

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that a bit of fat was unhealthy; I think you make a good point. One can 'big' and healthy and fit at the same time. The slope into obesity is a slippery one full of tasty things though...

Oh lord, the link. I kid you not, they were sharing a packet of crisps. angry

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 17:09:33

I know! How dare fat people be happy and enjoy their lives! Fucking bitch! Wow! Didn't realise how angry I was with her!

littleSpud Sun 20-Jul-14 17:10:26

No idea but watching as I don't want my dds growing up hating themselves like I didsad

SevenZarkSeven Sun 20-Jul-14 17:34:08

hello flamingo how nice to see you! I have been on here for yonks in many guises so not sure which one you'd know but Hello!!!!

This is a very interesting subject. I am pretty comfortable in my own skin and always have been, I have been trying to work out why that is as I realise more and more as I get older how totally unusual this is. Even now when I am bigger I seem to be much more comfortable than others. It's a bit baffling.

On kids, I have 2 DDs and they are both in primary school, infants. So I don't know yet whether the things I do will lead to them having a decent body image or not.

Anyway. I:

Don't read magazines or buy papers so there are not unattainable images all over the place - on the TV we all get it obviously but it's usually children's channels which aren't so bad! I suspect this is good for all of us, me included. They have shown that looking at perfect images of women makes women feel crap I think? Also the whole "omg woman has slight blemish on armpit" crap surely just leads to paranoia

Wander around naked a lot grin but that's maybe not for everyone! I have a tubbyish standard 40 year old body and so I guess they see me being comfortable

I don't make comments about bits I don't like. DH and I are trying to lose weight at the moment so they know we weigh ourselves I have explained it's better not to be overweight for health reasons and have pointed out that we both have wobbly tummys which is fat and it'd mean we are healthier if we are slimmer

I don't dress them up like dollys and try to avoid focusing on their looks (although I do tell them they are beautiful pretty etc as you don't want to avoid it completely for many reasons and anyway it's pretty impossible to stop it slipping out ingrained as it is as a standard comment to girls, I find myself saying it more than I'd like)

DH has quite unhealthy relationship with food "treats" "being good" etc all the diet tropes. I have told him to pack it in as much as he can as it is not good for the girls. We tell them about nutrition and balance and savoury before sweet and such and they seem to have a pretty good idea so far they eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full and have been known to choose cheese or fruit over sweets from time to time so that all seems good

I kind of feel like we're doing OK but only time will tell I think and peer pressure social pressure is so strong what you do at home can only go so far.

I will try and work out why I am so comfy with myself I talk to people / friends and know I am unusual and it'd be interesting to know why maybe pass it on smile

ElephantsNeverForgive Sun 20-Jul-14 17:35:52

Good links.
I'm a blobby size 16 and I have no hang ups about wearing a bathing costume, because I love swimming far too much to give a fuck.

I do avoid photo's, but I always have. I just look silly in them. Nothing to do with age, I've always looked daft in photos.

Fortunately my wedding ones are OK, but most are awful. DD1 has to be caught in an unguarded moment too, while DD2 just poses perfectly.

SevenZarkSeven Sun 20-Jul-14 17:38:40

God that's a whopper post!

Also

Although we are trying to lose weight we are not on a "diet" just trying to eat a bit less and watch the sugary drinks and be a bit more active it is working well but we don't talk about it IYSWIM the kids aren't hearing shall I have a yoghurt or one bit of choc I have 3 points left to spend where's the slimfast nono I'm low-carbing this week etc all the obsessive stuff which is very unhealthy but women and girls are pushed into doing almost as a standard way of life and universal ongoing thing and permanent topic of conversation.

Not trying to sound smug here as I'm not, just trying to answer teh question in the op honestly smile and I am 5'3 and nearly 11 stone so nothing to write home about there! smile

PetiteRaleuse Sun 20-Jul-14 17:38:48

Watching this as interesting. Hi FB ages since have seen you around.

ElephantsNeverForgive Sun 20-Jul-14 17:39:46

As for the DDs, DD1(16) takes peer pressure with a pinch of salt. She conforms with societies norms as far as it suits her.

DD2(13) I worry about more, but it's hard to tell if she does fashion etc. to conform or because she enjoys and is good at it.

Bluebelljumpsoverthemoon Sun 20-Jul-14 18:35:33

Fat is unattractive whether it's excessively padding out a man or woman. No child benefits from being overfed and under exercised no matter how many meaningless platitudes you instill in them to try and convince them that fat is good. It's not and I feel so sad for waddling children/teenagers, they're too young to be so repulsive and diseased.

I think if girls are raised to be strong, fit and healthy they're at an advantage. I encourage lots of physical activity and when she's old enough I'll be encouraging her to participate in as much team sport as possible as it toughens girls up, improves their social skills and gives them confidence and an identity that isn't wrapped up in a sexualised appearance.

I will never tolerate the lifestyle that results in fatness along with a lot of other things which are unacceptable. Children don't develop self esteem from their parents filling their head with lies,wishful thinking and delusions, once they realise that's not the reality they'll resent you and never trust you again. They gain esteem from their achievements, self respect and successful interaction with others.

SevenZarkSeven Sun 20-Jul-14 19:07:54

lol

nice try grin

I particularly liked "repulsive and diseased"

I think if you want to get a rise you need to be a little more subtle grin

ballsballsballs Sun 20-Jul-14 19:11:44

grin

tinkerbellvspredator Sun 20-Jul-14 19:32:48

I do a lot of the same as Seven. DD is 4 and sometimes she puts on a hair band or a necklace and says 'I look beautiful /pretty', I always reply you're always beautiful. First couple of times this caused an argument but she seems to accept it now! She also puts jewellery on me and says she's making me beautiful and I say the same about myself.

If she says I Mummy has a big Bum I say yes it's bigger than yours because I'm a grown up or 'isn't it lovely' that sort of thing.

Since she was a baby I've tried not to say pretty very much but say strong, brave etc.

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 19:53:10

Lucky I don't give a shit about your opinion, then Bluebell smile

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 19:56:39

I do the same about how I talk to my girls and am fairly self-confident as far as my body image goes. But I know I've internalised a lot of harmful ideas and I want to shift them so their energy doesn't transmit to my children, if that makes sense. Ideas that I know in my consciousness are false but are deep-seated thanks to growing up in this culture. I know I can't shield my children from all that shit but I can at least minimise any influence from my own stuff.

SevenZarkSeven Sun 20-Jul-14 20:23:07

I do know exactly what you mean sulis and the problem of course is that we are often operating sort of half aware like the things we say just pop out thoughtlessly and we don't even notice we're doing it.

So I think I don't give cues around low self esteem BUT maybe I am and I can't notice it because it's me IYSWIM. Like often people say stuff and if you ask them about it, it's clear they don't even remember saying it and if you ask why they look confused as it's not something they thought they would say.

Don't know if that makes sense!

There is a complex interaction of things here including family socialisation peers media and of course personality of the child.

I suspect there is something else that I get self esteem from that if it were taken or lost I'd struggle. Work maybe. Most people have something though right? Just that looks are so transitory if you have them in the first place and the pressure is too much not to mention expense and encouragement to constantly obsess and find yourself lacking.

scallopsrgreat Sun 20-Jul-14 20:36:18

I don't have DDs but I was one. I never remember my mum on a diet and she never mentioned body shape/image/size/eating habits etc to me at all and only very little about 'feminine grooming' (mainly at my prompting) . I think that really helped my body image into my early twenties even into my thirties. As did doing sport. Although neither of my parents pushed me that way. Less talking about what you look like is more helpful perhaps?

But eventually the relentlessness of the messages did get through (and an abusive boyfriend) <sigh>. Although I feel better equipped to deal with it now. Also feminism helped me see the patterns and how society pushes you down certain routes. Really useful tool, even if it is still difficult to counteract.

scallopsrgreat Sun 20-Jul-14 20:37:58

Oh and hi Sulis. Used to love the FlamingoBingo nickname grin

Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 20:51:32

FlamingoBingo I couldn't get back when I rejoined! I was gutted! grin

I dance twice a week. I'm good at it and I love it and I get asked to dance loads and I know it's not because I'm slim and young because I'm not grin. That gives me a lot of body confidence. But then I see some beautiful young girl getting asked to dance loads and it knocks my confidence...which is stupid because I know I get asked to dance because they know I can dance well whereas they're only getting asked for their looks as they're new and I know the reason I'd rather be asked to dance for! But the fact my confidence gets knocked shows me I have some deep-seated stuff sitting there.

I really want to get myself back into the habit of doing yoga regularly too. I want my girls to see me using and loving my body in positive, creative, joyful ways - I think that's a huge thing I can do for them and for myself.

Someone just added me to a closed women-only FB group for women learning to love their bodies again - that will be interesting too smile

turbonerd Sun 20-Jul-14 22:15:56

Find this interesting. Have two boys and one girl. The boys are talking about being fat vs having a six pack. I'm astonished as they are not teenagers yet.
I've always been little but with curves, though still had massive food issues when younger. Now I do work on being happy in my own skin, and mostly am. Do not buy magazines or watch much telly. I look around at other people and find most shapes and sizes are lovely, and use that to be positive about myself too.
My gran who's 86 has dieted her whole life. Never gave her any joy and my thought is that life is too short to hate oneself. It may sound a bit hippy, but various events in my life made that very clear. You get one go, brilliant luck actually. Enjoy.

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