TL;DR A lot of my personal opinion and theories. The best gift you can give your kids is to not pass on your bad body image baggage.
Hello. I am married to Brynne Huffman. She asked me if I would write some entries and this one seemed to jump out after the discussion going on in an earlier post
I wanted to expand on the comments I left on one of the posts here regarding how so much of this is a generational cycle. (Thank you Kathy Derby!)
You were maybe chastised regarding your weight or other flaws by your mother/father, grandparents, aunts/uncles so you strive not to pass that on to your daughters/sons. Many parents DON’T try and they end up perpetuating the cycle. So many people in this group have written about how much effect things said to them at a young age have. How those word are carried with them to this day and how this this may mean that you may never get to where you completely accept and believe your self-worth. But I believe, by not passing that behavior on between you and your children, your kids have a better chance to grow up to be able to love themselves; they are not carrying around that baggage from the people (relatives) in their life who should be their biggest supporters and role models. And the fact that this abuse is coming from the people who are supposed to be our protectors is part of what makes it so insidious. It’s hard to convince a child that a parent is wrong about something when the whole first part of that life you are told and conditioned to listen to your parents and believe they know best; and it makes sense as that’s how you stay alive long enough to learn to do things for yourself. So it becomes a deep seated belief, rooted in your very personality as it first develops.
I truly believe that, even in families, you need to speak out about this stuff. I think our kids need to see us stand up to people, especially family, and let them know it’s not acceptable behavior and won’t be tolerated. Seeing you defend them against that kind of damage helps armor them to be able to do it themselves when you won’t be there.
When it comes to combating these things in society, it’s my belief that bigotry and discrimination of all kinds are things that have to literally die out to have society progress. My major example being Veteran soldiers and attitudes towards the groups they fought against. In the cases of wars it’s hard to convince a person that some group is the enemy and acceptable to be killed. Just for sanity’s sake, many people will, in their mind, make members of that group less than human. The bigotry helps them get over the taboo of taking the life of another human that may even look just like them. So to then expect those soldiers to reenter society and discard those feelings once we are at peace with that group is unreasonable. And people thinking that after years and decades of peace that they should be able to reconcile and forget those feelings and prejudices seem to forget that if a soldier admits that his bigotry is/was wrong, then he has to face that he has committed violence against another human being. And the people at home supporting those soldiers and who may have lost loved ones to that conflict have the same bigotries and conflicts. Hence your racist older relatives.
But, in my opinion, the best gift those earlier generations can give is to NOT pass on those prejudices to the next generations. That way the bigotry dies out with the people who hold it in their minds but the future generations get to start with a clean slate. This is why I think you see the milestones made in civil rights and other social issues follow a fairly predictable pattern of acceptance. And I am in no way saying that this is universal or that it means we don’t have to fight for these causes. We do and there are always people who can rise above. I feel like we are approaching this kind of change in the body acceptance movement. I think that the groundswell of information and knowledge regarding what makes people fat or skinny and all of the causes that are more complicated than “lazy” or “big boned” or “eating disorder” is making the generation coming up more aware. I think they are going to have a much better chance of learning acceptance about body issues and are probably going to be around for some life changing advances in the sciences related to human physiology. My goal is to not pass on to my kids the damage and prejudices I grew up with and to give them the chance to love themselves without passing on that baggage.