“Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!
Those words don’t sound particularly offensive to me (I find them much better than the “earn your bagel” I heard recently in spin class) but they pissed another mom off. She was in a workout class and the instructor shouted them out. I’m sure the instructor was trying to motivate but Brynn Harrison thinks exercise, for herself and her daughter, should be for the love of it and not to fit in a dress. I say why do we have to choose?
My mother taught me how delicious homemade tomato sauce is, she enrolled me in tennis and swim lessons, she encouraged me to taste, see and do. My mother also worked really hard running her own business. She knew what matters (and still does) but when I close my eyes and picture my mother growing up she’s in white short shorts and a white top, with big round (white) sunglasses leaning against her sports car. My mom was a babe, I grew up aware of this but she was a babe who did it all.
Since when does delighting in what our bodies can do and what our senses can take in mean that feeling great in a dress or on the beach is off limits? It doesn’t. There is this trend in the blogosphere that holds that in order to shield young girls from all the body messaging they receive they need to solely focus on what their bodies can do.
As a mother of boys, I come across very little about boys and their bodies (thought I’m reading a great book now, more on that later) or the role boys can play in girls’ self esteem. I started thinking about what I wanted them to know about girls and later girlfriends and women:
10 things I want my boys to know about girls
  1. Never think girls are either outdoorsy or glamorous. You have days you hang out in your PJs and nicer clothing for piano recitals.  A girl can love to go hiking and then want to feel pretty in a party dress.
  2. If a girl asks you “how do I look” answer with “great” or “amazing” or if you don’t honestly think that find something to compliment…her outfit, her hair or her smile. Everyone likes compliments as long as they are truthful.
  3. Watch how girls are with their friends, waiters and taxi drivers. Rude or mean isn’t ever cool or funny. And don’t ever be rude or mean to impress a girl.
  4. People are not checklists.  You’re not looking for a certain look or a certain height you’re looking for a person that you think about when they’re not around.
  5. When you’re with the right person you don’t have to choose between them and your friends.
  6. You already have a shadow, look for someone who has things she likes to do. It’s even more fun if her hobbies aren’t the same as yours. If she doesn’t like to do anything…uh oh. And keep playing hockey and piano as long as you enjoy it.
  7. You’re not a supermodel and chances are you will not date one. You’re handsome as can be but don’t have abs like the men’s magazines. Don’t expect any girl’s body parts to look like Brooklyn Decker or Sophia Vergara (Myles wink, wink).
  8. I know things move quickly these days but holding hands is never out of style, neither is holding the door open.
  9. “I love you” is sacred but if you feel it always say it. 
And for the record, I liked most of what Brynn had to say to her daughter especially
“Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski/snowshoe, you can see more of it.”
She would probably slap me but I’m putting on some tinted moisturizer and lip gloss before hitting the slopes today and I do care how my ski pants look and feel.
How did your parents inform you about your body growing up? Would you have been bothered by the fitness instructor’s words? Do you shy away from discussing the “outside” or looks with your daughter? What advice do you give your sons on all of this? 
I will be doing the amazing Sarah Stanley’s Wellness Chat Thursday 12/12 at 8pm EST the topic is Breaking Old Holiday Habits, please join, ask questions etc.

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