070Photo by Howard Schatz from the series “Athlete”

Back in August we ran a story about Lily, who had a poor body image but found acceptance at Physie and whose confidence blossomed.  Her mum said “from the depths of my heart as her mother I thank you for your encouragement. You made her feel good about herself”.

Since then, I’ve been reading about the Body Image Movement, founded by Taryn Brumfitt to help women learn to fully embrace and love their body.  Their mission is this:

“We’re on a quest to redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty. Body Image Movement’s job is to harness and facilitate positive body image activism by encouraging women to be more accepting of who they are, to use positive language regarding their bodies and others, and to prioritise health before beauty.”

It started me thinking … as parents and teachers of physie girls, how can we help girls build up their resistance to the epidemic of body-hating and body-shaming that today’s media encourages? We can’t protect them from it but we can educate them, arm them with an objective awareness and encourage self-respect and pride in themselves.

So what do we say when a girl asks, “am I fat?”  Taryn from BIM answers with these great strategies:

–          Teach children that their bodies are NOT ornaments but a vehicle to their dreams

–          Focus on health and wellness, not weight or beauty ideals

–          Emphasise your child’s strengths like kindness, humility, intellect and resilience

–          Ban fat-shaming and diet talk within your home

–          Enforce a zero tolerance on body-related teasing

–          Ditch the scales – a number on a scale doesn’t define your health, fitness or worth

–          Celebrate the joy of food, eat mindfully and eat together

–         Discuss how food can fuel your body to feel good from the inside out.

And remember, it’s not just what you say but what you do and what you believe yourself.  Telling her that she is perfect just the way she is doesn’t mean much if you complain about your body, crash diet and obsess about the scales.  Get fit, dance and have fun together – love yourself, so that she can do the same.

Here’s some info on BIM from their website:

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We say no to…

  • Excessive “Photoshopping” of body images in the media
  • Being programmed by the media and corporations into accepting unrealistic body images
  • Prescribing to the notion that being a certain weight determines whether you’re healthy
  • Sexualisation of women in the media and modern culture
  • Women being treated as sexual objects and the objectification of women
  • Society and advertising preying on women’s insecurities

We say yes to…

  • Body diversity and embracing all body types, shapes, sizes, colours and revelling in the beauty of the human form
  • Celebrating the journey our bodies have been on
  • Giving an alternative to cosmetic surgery, and learning to live and love your body
  • Growing old, and acknowledging the privilege to do so
  • Women focusing on things that are important, rather than comparing ourselves to others
  • Teaching women that their body is not an ornament, but a vehicle to their dreams
  • Teaching women to arm themselves with the skills which will make them resilient and unshakable when bombarded with negative body image in the media
  • Being healthy at every weight

Finally, we encourage open communication and positive support between women everywhere.  We have a community of like-minded women (and men) who connect, converse, inspire and share their stories via our Facebook page, our website and Twitter.  We welcome your participation in this brave new movement.

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Taryn Blumfitt