Parenting fail…I thought I was doing a decent job with raising my kids to be happy with how they look. Then all it took was one sentence from Angelina- “I don’t want to put those trousers on because they make my legs look fat!” – and all my confidence that I was winning at at least one aspect of parenting came crashing down. (Imagine multi-story building demolition with dynamite style crashing!)
As outdoor enthusiasts I believe function has to go above form for clothes when we are heading out on and adventure. However, I do try to choose good looking functional items too. Sometimes it’s just not possible, as the children’s outdoor attire tends to be either hyper-functional and rather bland (such as the offending trousers) or stylish, but lacking in technical features (like cotton-blend jumpers… if you’ve raised an eyebrow, ’cause you don’t understand why this is bad, read THIS).
Back to my parenting fail- since they were little we’ve tried to set a good example about our own body image, not letting on how we may feel (both Dadonthebrink, who is actually totally fine with his image and me, who is less so); when the kids have commented on my podgy, stretched tummy I have joked about it to say I’m actually proud of it because it harboured 3 great, but rather large babies.
Where does Angelina get the seeds that plant doubt in her mind about how beautiful she actually is?– I pondered, not that I had to think long. Her favourite Netflix series- the most exposure to media she gets- all have slim, long-haired girls as heroines, all around us we are surrounded by photoshopped images of super slim women, with flawless features. Even plus sized models are size 14-16 instead of the average plus-sized population of size 20-22.
As a parent, the unrealistic expectation placed on what beauty should be, puts way too much pressure on children- girls and increasingly boys too. And the worst thing is that these images are so often digitally manipulated!
What’s it going to be next for Angelina- Start dieting at the age of 11?
Over the years, my parents have remarked a couple of times that they feel Angelina is too skinny, often in front of her. Each time I have come down on them like a tonne of bricks, defending her: “She is absolutely perfect and she doesn’t need to eat more than what her body is telling her!” These tiny pokes are not healthy, for they stick with you for life; They are a double-edged sword- for it messes with her mind and her body confidence, whichever way.
— Monika MumontheBrink (@mumonthebrink) November 12, 2016
At the Mumsnet blogfest I met some of Dove’s marketing team and they captured my attention with a large mirror. I reluctantly looked into it, not really liking the reflection… that top just didn’t feel right, on a body that didn’t feel right… you know how it is, when you are uber critical of yourself. They encourged me to snap a picture and share it on social media. You see, Dove has recently launch a new campaign- Be Real Body Image Pledge, part of a national movement campaigning for the advertising, fashion, music and media industries to show more reality and diversity.
The statistics they shared are frightening about how the unrealistic images are actually affecting people (check out this infographic). It seems we have a vicious circle and the only way out is a mass movement: change these image to reflect reality, don’t airbrush the character out of people.
However, I feel there is a caveat: not that it’s going to happen, but I really don’t want size 20+ to dominate my viewing either. I hope we can normalise a healthy body- and beauty image, but keep it aspirational in terms of what is a healthy body… and that is not an obese body, but one that is exercised and treated with respect.
I hope I can be part of this pledge on two fronts- through my parenting, and striving to raise children who are confident enough to be able to shrug off, at least some of, the pressures on them to look “perfect”. Secondly through a new venture launching on the 1st of December:
Inspireroo magazine, a family travel and outdoor adventure magazine. I pledge that we will use images of diverse people and adopt a responsible portrayal of people in our media and advertising, and especially of children, women and beauty.
We are just a tinnie-winnie drop in an ocean, but if through our content in the magazine we can encourage just a few people to set aside their inhibitions and embark on an outdoor pursuit, a trip or an activity which they wouldn’t for being too self-conscious…we’ll have won! Please do Subscibe … and then don’t forget to hold us accountable if we don’t live up to that pledge!