Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guest Blogger...Cara Putman

Too Thin? How do we teach our girls to be healthy?

Last week I saw an article on Forbes.com that dealt with failed attempts to rid the London fashion show of ultra-thin models.

Then this weekend I watched a room makeover show with my daughter. Now I know that not every six-year-old loves to watch these shows, but this particular episode was all about organizing an eleven-year-old girl’s room. What caught my eye, though, was the closet door covered with the women this little girl admired. It was literally covered with all kinds of actresses and supermodels.

That sight strengthened my vow not to subscribe to magazines that are filled with those images and role models. But it also got me to thinking about how hard it will be to keep my little girl from thinking the only “normal” way to look is pencil thin.

What’s a mom to do?

I’m not an expert, but here are a couple things I am trying to do now – at an early age – to give my little girl a healthy self-image.

1) I encourage her every time I see her make a good choice on clothes combinations. I love to watch her explore. One day she’ll match the color of the flowers on her jeans with the shirt she wears. Another day it’s an all black ensemble. Maybe not my first choice, but at least it matches.

2) I make sure she only has modest clothes to choose from. At six, she’s not able to tell that something isn’t stylish enough for her, and I can steer her away from the midriff baring styles. But it also means that I have chosen (totally my preference) not to let her wear bikinis now, because I don’t want to suddenly change the rules on her later.

3) I strive to reinforce that she is much more than the outside. We focus on her intellect, the gifts and talents God has given her, and the fact God and a lot of people around her love her simply because she exists. That love won’t change based on how she looks.

4) Finally, I try to set a good example for her. I watch what I wear. Is it consistent with what I want her to wear? (BTW she has great taste when picking out my clothes, too). Am I eating the right foods and giving her good choices? Am I demonstrating in the way I live that exercise is important? Are we taking those family walks when it’s not snowing outside.

So what do you do in your family to combat the world’s messages to your kids about how they look? I can’t wait to read your comments.


At Tuesday, 30 January, 2007, Blogger Michelle Pendergrass said...

Excellent post. Now I need to come up with ways to teach Zane to love people (think future wife) for who she is.

At Tuesday, 30 January, 2007, Blogger Tricia Goyer said...

This is a GREAT post, Cara. My daughter is blessed that she's 5'5" and is a size 2. So NOT my genes, or my jeans!

And it's a challenge to find clothes in that size that aren't revealing. But thankfully she does a great job at choosing modest clothes. You're right ... start young and talk to them about body image early. It's NEVER too early.

At Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, Blogger Cara Putman said...

It's the training aspect of parenting that's the challenge, isn't it? we can't start too young anymore.


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