Since having my first child, I’ve become even more hyper-aware of all the diet culture and exercise fitspo propaganda that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
The pervasive pressure that our culture seems to place upon mothers to ‘lose the baby weight’ has been something I’ve constantly had to resist recently. I’ve had to consciously speak to those voices in my head telling me that weight loss has got to be a priority, and I’ve had to catch myself when the natural tendency to compare myself to other postpartum woman comes up.
As amazing as social media is for communicating and reaching people with our health message and also building a community of like-minded people, it can become a negative influence where people only show their highlights and fail to show their day to day struggles. We then tend to compare our normal life with strangers highlight reels and come away feeling lacking in all areas.
I would love to re-write my own story, to speak to my younger self with more compassion and love, in an attempt to help myself avoid the years of obsession, of forcing my body to comply and striving to measure up. Although I can’t do that, I CAN aim to instill in my daughter, a body confidence and healthy attitude towards food and exercise, that saves her from walking the same road I did.
I want her to know, her worth is not tied to her weight, her identity does not come from her dress size and her beauty is not defined by her outward appearance. I want her to wear a swimsuit with confidence! I want her to strive to be healthy, not skinny. I want her to know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and to strive to be the best version of herself, not some idealised version of someone else.
I want her to see food as fuel for her body, not a punishment or reward, not as good or bad. I want her to enjoy food, not feel controlled by it. I want her to eat real food because of the way it makes her body feel, but not worry about the occasional processed treat because our bodies are able to deal with it! I want her to know that food is also good for the soul, it builds memories and brings joy. I want her to eat that piece of birthday cake and not give it another thought.
I want her to see exercise and movement as something she does to feel energised and awesome, not to become smaller, not to fit into a dress, not to become some arbitrary number on the scale that equals societies standard of beautiful. I don’t want her to use exercise as punishment for something she ate, or have her worth tied up in how many workouts she did. I want her to see exercise as a chance to become stronger and more capable so she can explore and see more of the world.
What about you? What do you wish your child or future child, or even your past self, had known or knows about the crazy diet and weight-obsessed culture in which we live? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know if any of my ponderings have resonated with you.