Like many mothers, Michelle, 47, suffered from Postnatal Depression after giving birth to her daughter, Amber. From this darkness, the body image issues she’d suffered on and off since adolescence emerged again. The scrutiny, the self-criticism, the envy of others.
But with a precious little girl now in her life, Michelle made a promise to herself that she would never pass these issues on to her daughter.
Fast-forward to today, and sadly Amber has come to them on her own. Now eight years old, the school girl’s body isn’t like many of her peers; she’s in the older range of her class and is taller than most.
Michelle recalls one day in particular before school when Amber came into the room, crying, and distraught at the thought that her “legs look fat in these!”
“An arrow went through my heart as I held her,” Michelle said. “This was the first appearance of the body image issues that I so dearly wanted to protect her from.
“Amber was having these thoughts because she was comparing herself to her thinner friends. I had been there too often myself, I know how dangerous comparison can be and I think that is what hurt me the most.”
Michelle tried to switch the conversation and turn her ‘bigger’ legs into a positive, telling Amber that her legs were strong and were important for some of her hobbies, including running, climbing, bike riding and trampolining.
How to talk to little girls….
To further help Amber overcome these doubts, Michelle encouraged Amber to enrol in a circus holiday program, where she could use her strong legs to her advantage, just like the strong gymnasts that Amber had previously commented on.