Who helped shape our body image?

Hello Divine Sisters… this month we’re celebrating Mother’s Day.

This brings to mind how female role models in our lives… our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and other females… from early childhood on have helped (or hurt as sometimes happens) shape and influence our body image. How we may have received the wrong physical expectations from those early influences and, unfortunately, develop a poor body image and “body shame.”

I feel there’s always a bright side to every shadow in our lives. So, I’d also love to discuss how we can stop this pattern. How we, as Divine Moms and role models for young girls, can bring to an end to this idea of “looking perfect.”

Most importantly… how we can teach healthy attitudes to enhance the futures of our youthful Divine Sisters.

So — let’s first look at three ways I personally developed “body shame” from my early female role models. You may find that you can relate to all three or perhaps just one of these examples. But, if you understand what Divine Renewal is all about and are reading this — I’m sure you’ll find similarities to your own life:

1) I can attest to the fact that my own body shame was definitely influenced by the female role models in my life. However, my input came mostly from my mom’s sisters — my Aunts (although my mother also suffered a bit of Body Dysmorphic Disorder). For as long as I can remember my Aunts struggled with body shame. Always on some sort of diet. Continually worrying about gaining too much weight according to what they thought was normal. They were never obese or even fat for that matter, but their continual struggles towards being “perfect” were always the major message I received.

2) Being brought up in a Colombian society – famous for the Miss Universe and other beauty-valued contests – extreme importance was placed on physical appearance. My culture was obsessed with beauty queens and having the “optimum” measurements of 90 cm-60 cm-90 cm (or approximately non-metric 34-24-34 inches.) Women were made into a “formula” — a measurement of perfection!

3) I remember being told I was getting fat when, in actuality, I was not; being told my hair was too curly; and various other “innocent” comments that wounded my self-image. We all know wounds heal with scars, and scars can become permanent.

Even something as harmless as “You have your Grandmother’s nose," (which you realize was huge) or “your crooked toes remind me so much of your Aunt,” (and you knew people made fun of her toes) or even that dreaded, “your tummy looks fat, I think you’re gaining weight.” Or, on the totally opposite side of this spectrum, “You’re so skinny you look like a toothpick.” Yes, there’s such a thing as “skinny shame” also!

As lighthearted as they may have been meant — these remarks can cause deep wounds and scars.

I’m certain, my dear Sisters, at least one of these comments or something similar, even if casually said, made a dent in your image of yourself. Right? So, what can we do? How can we stop this pattern?
Here are a few things, we as Divine Moms and female role models, can do:

1) We can put emphasis on valuing a body's function over its appearance. Talk about how to stay physically fit for health reasons — not following a “formula” of measurements.

2) Tell our young girls to be aware of one’s own body — never comparing it to anyone else’s. Loving the body we were born to live in!

3) Help our "daughter" focus on what their bodies can do versus how they appear. Change the viewpoint from “a body as an object” to "a body as a subject.” This will guide our little Divine Sisters in developing a more positive body image.

4) Remember that this isn't about you; it’s about the needs of our young girls. We must permit these young, impressionable Divine Sisters-in-the-making to be who they are. Not imposing the visual image we think they should be.

I’d like to say that the biggest gift I feel a mother or female role model can present to our young girls is Appreciation, Compassion, and Self-Love!
Every future Divine Sister should be able to FEEL the love from us… so she can feel the same love about herself.

With much love,