My sister and I have both struggled with body image issues all our lives. As little ethnic girls in primary school routinely teased for the darkness of our skin and the food in our lunchboxes, we very quickly caught onto the fact that we didn’t fit in. We didn’t feel beautiful until we were much older and we have our amazing husbands and beautiful friends to thank for keeping those nasty little voices from school out of our heads.
Now we both have daughters and if there is one thing we could do for them it would be to help them completely avoid ever feeling like they don’t feel in, that they aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or normal enough.
Our daughters don’t have sisters to help them through. We both have two boys and one girl each so we are hoping our daughters, first cousins, become just like sisters. That makes it even more important to me that my niece Giacinta, 10, has the right idea when it comes to body image, because she is already one of the most important influences on my daughter Caterina, six.
My sister Marina and I talk about how we are raising our children all the time and she shared with me her concerns about ensuring Giacinta never develops body image issues. We want our girls to be as happy as they can be, but we know we have our work cut out for us. Marina says she never wants to hear Giacinta worry if she is thin or fat, she just wants her to focus on being healthy.
However even her vigilance can’t shield her daughter from body image pressures. “She has started to say things like ‘I look fat in that’”, Marina says, “and she is spending more time brushing her hair and wanting to put on makeup now!”