Everyday we see, hear, and discuss the negativity surrounding women’s body image and self-esteem in our modern day society. Constantly we are bombarded with articles, books, and commentary about how we need to build up our young women, help them develop a strong sense of self-confidence, and do away with all the sexualized images of the female body in order to improve our young girl’s feelings of inadequacy. All of this could not be more true, but we need to first turn the mirror to ourselves and see where these perceptions are stemming from.
Tweens, teens, and 20-somethings are not the only ones expressing displeasure with their less than super-modelesque physiques. As 30 and 40-something moms, many of us are constantly complaining about our bodies we don’t want to wear shorts, we are constantly dieting, we flat-out balk at putting on a bathing suit, and we refuse to be in pictures which we are convinced add 10 pounds. All of this being said in front of our children multiple times a day. Newsflash: our children hear each and every one of those comments we make. They internalize those comments, and from that, in combination with outside influences, form their idea of what a perfect body looks like; this applies to both boys and girls.
Social media and the internet have not done anyone any favors in the area of positive body influences either, so it is time to change those misconceptions and redefine what is beautiful. It is time to empower our children by empowering ourselves. Moms, it is time to get in front of that camera! Let’s face it, you aren’t going to be here forever and your children are not likely to look back and criticize your body, rather they’d love to have the memories in which you took center-stage.
Admit You Are Beautiful
Own it! Own your post-baby body that has withstood one of the greatest feats mankind has to dish out. You had a baby, and so yes, you are stretched and scarred but those are marks that show your power and feminine strength; they are not something to be ashamed of. Wear the bathing suit, put on some make-up, play with the kids, and get in the picture. In the era of selfie sticks and cellphone cameras there is no reason why Mom shouldn’t be included in the everyday park photos or the fun-family vacation. You were there, and your kids will want to remember the role you played in their day. Plus, your Facebook friends will see you actually interacting with your children rather than simply being a spectator/chauffeur to their busy lives.
Ladies, your husbands love you just as much as they did when you were 22 and fit in a size 2. Honestly, many men prefer the voluptuous curves of their post-baby wives to railroad thin supermodels, so it is time for you to join in this party and love yourself. No mother who has ever breastfed her children has the “perfect” breasts we see plastered all over the internet, but you’ve literally sustained life, so embrace it! Take stock of your features and decide which curves make you feel the prettiest, sexiest, and most becoming. Whether for yourself or your husband, consider a private or boudoir photo shoot to highlight these features. Photos like this will make you feel feminine, sexy, and strong, as they will play up your best angles and make you look fabulous. Sharing these with your husband or friend takes guts, but we promise if he loves you, he will love these photos making you feel strong and sensual.
Be Part of the Group
Don’t be caught behind the camera every time. Get in the picture. You are there, and you are adventurous, so prove it. Whether hiking, fishing, or having a tea party, capture the memories you were a part of. At a minimum make sure to get an annual family photo where you are a part of the group, but those photos don’t truly capture the times you’ve shared. As the mama bear, you are the heart and soul of the family, so show it! You and the kids will love to look back and see the sparkle in your eye and the huge grin on your face when you are all together, having fun and sharing the best moments in life.
Inspire Self-Confidence in Your Kids
For many of us this is probably the most important reason to get in front of the camera. Let your children see how much you love yourself and your body so they can learn to do the same. Stop speaking negatively about all your features you find flawed and put a positive spin on things your thighs may be thick but they can climb mountains, your arms may be thin but they are strong enough to carry your babies, and your hips may be wide but they make the perfect seat for your toddler. There are so many incredible and useful ways our bodies are created just as they should be, and we need to promote the positives and forget about the negatives. Our children, both boys and girls, need to be inspired to do the same. There will always be features they are unhappy with at times, but an overall high self-esteem will go a long way in the body-image obsessed, superficial world in which we are raising our kids.
There is no right time to jump in the photo… no, not when you are dressed to the nines or once you lose the baby weight… the time is now. Stop missing out on those family photo opportunities before it is too late; soon enough your kids will be in college. Start loving yourself with a sexy photo shoot; we aren’t getting any younger and you’ll be amazed at how bold and beautiful you will feel. The time for capturing the memories of a lifetime is here and now, every single day, no matter where you are or who you’re with. And remember, pictures don’t have to be perfect, you just need to be present.
Photo Credits: Kristin dePaula, Rachel Rose Photography