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Building Confidence, One Living Room Lecture at a Time

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We were watching a video when one of the characters made an insulting remark about another character’s weight. I don’t remember which cartoon it was, but I do remember I seized the opportunity to give my daughters, then around six and eight-years-old, a passionate, excruciatingly long lecture about the importance of having a positive self-image. If I had a soapbox handy I would have climbed right on top of it.

Ignoring their pleas, I paused the tape and stood between them and the TV for added impact, using the remote as a pointer to emphasize my point. “That,” I said, gesturing at the character now freeze-framed in his shame, “is wrong. Don’t let anyone talk to you like that.” By the end of my ten-minute lecture (or was it twenty?) I could tell they were mesmerized by the way they sat rigid, clutching their juice boxes. Either that or maybe they both had fallen asleep.

Later, I told my neighbor – the mother of two college-aged sons – about the body-image lesson I had given my girls. “Excellent,” she said. “Now, all you have to do is stand between them, the TV and the rest of the world for the next ten years!”

I knew what she meant, and she was right. There, within the walls of my living room I could shield them from the harsh words of an animated character, but I wouldn’t be able to freeze-frame or mute what they would soon encounter at school, on the subway, on the internet and anywhere else people say things to undermine other people, especially girls. In other words, everywhere for the rest of their lives.

The only solution was to help them #buildconfidence so that they could deal with whatever came their way. It was up to my husband and I to give them the tools to filter what they saw and heard and react – or not react – in a way that felt right to them. We wouldn’t always be there, chastising cartoon characters on their behalf. (Also, that one lecture had made me really tired and I didn’t want to make a habit of it.)

We set the foundation for a healthy body image in the girls early on. From when they were little, we were careful never to comment negatively about their appearance or weight. I never talked about dieting around them, instead emphasizing healthy eating (or what I like to call ‘realistic eating,’ meaning you can have that donut and still be a good person.)

It wasn’t easy. There were fights and eye rolling and slammed doors. I still stand by my reasoning that insisting they wear shorts underneath their mini skirts is purely for their own safety and not just me trying to infringe on their rights.

My husband, mindful of how words from dad can be equally helpful or hurtful to their self-esteem, has always gone out of his way to compliment our girls – and me – on accomplishments and endeavors, not just on appearance. (Insert non-sexist comment about him “being a keeper” here.)

My daughters are 17 and 19 now. They’ve grown into smart, confident, outspoken humans who have a strong sense of self and their boundaries. They’ll call out anyone (including my husband and I) who makes a comment they think are perpetuating gender stereotypes.

While we certainly can’t protect our kids from the harmful slings and arrows they’ll have hurled at them, we’re their first line of defense in arming themselves. I like to think that my grandiose lecture in the living room all those years ago made a small impression and they hadn’t slept through it after all. Building confident girls started for my husband and I at home. Maybe we all need to start off by just hitting pause, speaking loudly – and wielding a big remote.

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Source Article: http://mom.me/blog/21817-building-confidence-one-living-room-lecture-time/

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It Took Me Years to Get Over My Mom’s Lack of Body Confidence

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Growing up my mom was my gold standard of beauty. She had the softest skin, freckles, and black hair that tended to frizz just like mine. I remember watching her once in front of her mirror. She stared at her reflection and said “I’m ugly” with a frown. Just like that, she shook my whole world. How could my beautiful mother think she was ugly? And if I resembled my mom, which I did, did that mean I was ugly too?

Jay Miranda as a toddler, left. Her parents, right.

My story is entwined with my mother’s. Over the years I watched her alter her appearance in minor and major ways. I felt the need to reassure her of her beauty always. That day when she called herself ugly I told her she was beautiful.

I received mostly criticism from her. The phrase, “You’re pretty,” was almost always followed by, “but you need to lose weight.” I remember one time she recounted a dream to me: “You were thin and so beautiful.” She looked genuinely disappointed.

My dad (pictured above with my mom) tended to echo the statements. Like most fat kids, I faced bullying at school. At home, my meals were scrutinized. All this made for a painfully self-conscious girlhood and adolescence.

My life didn’t change until I left for college—a whole 400 miles away. Left only to pursue my goals and explore my interests, I flourished. I didn’t lose any weight, but I gained confidence. I did well in school and no one could take that away from me. I formed some great friendships. I also met and fell in love with my future husband. I started to experiment with my style—and even started a body-positive fashion blog back in 2008. I felt unabashedly beautiful.

I’m 30-years-old now and I’m a mom. Pregnancy taught me to love my body in a new way. I felt profoundly grateful for what my body could do. Giving birth was empowering.

Body confidence, or a lack thereof, starts at home. That’s why there’s no negative body talk here. I’ll stand in front of the mirror with my daughter, like my mom did with me. She’s a toddler and just learning to name all the different body parts. She’ll jubilantly say, “I like my feet, I like my tummy!” I’ll say, “I like my tummy too!” If you want your kids to be confident in their bodies, you have to be confident in yours.

Like most fat kids, I faced bullying at school. At home, my meals were scrutinized.

My husband has a slightly different, but complimentary outlook. His message to our daughter is, “You’re just right, just as you are.” According to him, if someone else says differently, something is wrong with them. The role of dads in building their children’s confidence cannot be overstated. When it comes to my daughter and her daddy? He hangs the moon in her sky.

Jay Miranda, her husband and daughter

We parents become the voices in our kids’ heads.

Oh, and it turns out body confidence increases health. It’s been found to produce better results for women than negative messages do. This has proved true in my life this year. I finally got over the last of my latent fears about exercising in public. I’ve been going to yoga class regularly and for the first time I’m eating with energy and vitality as my guides.

I don’t want the voice in my daughter’s head to be the negative one my mom created for me. Yes, I want my daughter to feel beautiful, but mostly I want her to learn that it’s not all about beauty. There’s so much more to her!

Moms and dads, let’s #BuildConfidence.

All images via JayMiranda.com

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Source Article: http://mom.me/blog/21792-body-confidence-starts-home/

Not Your Average Crisis Team is asking you to Please Help Susie!

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Not Your Average Crisis Appeal – Susie’s family needs you to make it through! Hello again from the ladies of Susie’s Not Your Average Fitness Group. We’ve been in touch before. And we’re so grateful for your generous contributions to the GoFundMe campaign we created for Susie. As you know, Susie and her family have had a […]

Why the ‘Sesame Street’ Move to HBO Feels Like a Betrayal

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When I read that the 45-year-running kids’ show “Sesame Street” would be moving its next five seasons—35 episodes per season— to HBO, I scanned for the telltale logo of the satire news site, “The Onion,” but found it to be an actual fact.

I admit that next I went into knee-jerk reaction mode. Any change of a childhood institution feels like a betrayal, like a public knocking down of a sacred part of one’s memory (case in point, raised on early ’70s “Sesame Street,” I never could get behind that interloper Elmo). I didn’t just grow up on the show, I grew up with it—I’m 41 this month, just a few years younger than the show itself.

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Source Article: http://mom.me/blog/21765-sesame-street-move-hbo/

Does Every Parent Suck At This, Or Is It Just Me?

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One of my only parenting regrets from my son's first year, is not having professional photos made. Of course, I have a…

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