Submitted by Shannon Caswell
I struggled with an eating disorder in highschool. While I have recovered at the age of 33, I would be lying if I said body image pressures were a distant past. In today’s society, it’s seems impossible to escape the pressures, the expectations, and the assumptions. However, I have become more keenly aware of how I let it impact me and how I define beauty.
We see it everywhere.
Television shows exist whose sole purpose is to judge what people wear and how beautiful they look. Food commercials tout the key to success lies in what you eat. Even in the workplace, we endure studies promoting that attractive women in the workplace are more successful.
We see models in magazines, fragile and thin. They look happy. They look like they have everything. What most people don’t know is that for many, their ability to control how little they eat consumes their life, everyday. It’s the pressure they live with every morning when they wake up and every night when they go to sleep. They are told that their ability to control what they eat and how they look defines them and their success.
That becomes what we’re made to believe, and that is what young girls see. What they aspire to be. And it translates into how young boys grow up defining beauty in a woman.
As a mother of two young boys experiencing the world, the most important thing I can teach them is to love their body for which they were blessed. And I know this starts with me.
So I vow to teach them beauty is within. It is what you say. What you do. What you feel. And what you love.
I will tell them I love them, everyday.
I will teach them no one should be perfect.
I will teach them that the words ugly, stupid, and not good enough aren’t real.
I will help them to love others for everything they are. And more importantly, everything they’re not.
I will teach them to never compare themselves to anyone else. That they are unique and being different is beautiful.
Lastly, I will teach them self-awareness. I know we can’t escape what we see on television, what we read in a magazine, or how people will view us.
But we can change how we experience it.
How we live it.
And how we take it with us into the world.
That is my vow to my children.