It’s never too early (or too late) to start the conversation – with the kids in your life and with your inner child.
Reading this poem (below) to them can be a great way to start.
Speaking of beauty…
My daughter, Eve, (who’s currently 6) and I have regular conversations about feeling confident and beautiful in our own bodies – and about the true definition of beauty. I’m happy to say that so far, it seems to be having a positive impact.
This poem pretty much captures everything we talk about.
I’ve felt compelled to share it on a broad scale by creating and publishing it as a picture book, because the more children who hear it, the easier it will be for them all to express and embrace their own self-acceptance!
I decided to start with Eve’s classmates, and arranged with her teacher to co-facilitate a special workshop on the topic of self-esteem and positive body image. We did this last week, and it was such a wonderful experience, I thought I’d share it here as a possible creative exercise for you to do with the kids in your life too – since they learn so well when they’re engaged in creativity.
Here’s the poem (now also a children’s eBook):
YOU, Beautiful You
By: Kimberley Record
Each and every morning,
Before the sun has risen,
There’s a chance for you to see and feel
The beauty you’ve been given.
Before your toes reach for the floor
As you get up out of bed,
You can shower happy thoughts and feelings
Throughout your heart and head.
Did you know your wonderful body is made of
trillions of tiny cells?
These miracles keep your heart a-ticking
And keep your brain smart as well!
If you don’t already realize
Just how truly special you are —
NO ONE on earth has cells like yours,
Not anywhere, near or far.
Your own cells made a body
That’s PERFECT in every way –
And that’s because it’s custom-made for YOU
To laugh and play.
It’s also been designed inside
With GIFTS unique to you.
Your job is to discover them
And make your dreams come true!
Think of the things in life
That make you smile from inside-out.
These things will give you clues to find your gifts,
Without a doubt.
Your beauty on the outside
Comes from your inner smiling glow,
And when you let your unique gifts shine bright,
Your smile will grow and grow.
Your body may not look the same as your
Friends’, sisters’ or brothers’,
But that’s because our cells make bodies
Different from one another!
Short, tall, dark, light,
Skinny and big-boned,
Everyone is uniquely beautiful,
And YOUR beauty is your own.
Healthy food, activity,
Laughter, play and sleep
All help to nourish a body and mind
That you’ll be proud to keep!
There may be days when you don’t feel
Quite beautiful enough,
But it’s only on days when you forget your gifts
That this gets tough.
When you look into the mirror each day,
And give your biggest smile,
This helps you to remember all your gifts
And splendid style!
But if in doubt, each morning there’s just
ONE key thing to do;
And that’s to simply wake up being
YOU, beautiful you.
Here’s how we engaged them in discussion – questions you can ask your kids too:
First, I read the title to them and asked them what they thought the poem was about.
They started thinking. But no response.
Then I asked them what they thought was beautiful.
Lots of responses! Butterflies, flowers, rainbows, colours, etc.
I then asked if they knew they were all beautiful too.
Smiles all around 🙂
After that, I read the entire poem, then the teacher and I asked an assortment questions that had almost every hand in the room raised excitedly in response. We also had them create drawings of their interpretations of the poem, which was beautiful (and they’ll all help to make up a gorgeous published picture book in the very near future)!
Here are some of the most engaging questions – from our classroom experience, and from my experience talking about it with Eve one-one:
- A gift inside is different from a gift you can wrap: What gift(s) do you have inside that makes you feel good? What makes you smile?
- It’s our differences that make us beautiful: What makes you different from everyone else?
- What can you do to keep your body feeling healthy?
- What is your favourite thing to do?
- What do you love to play?
- What makes you laugh? How do you make others laugh?
- What can you think about every morning – and night – to remind yourself how special you are?
Here’s a video from several months ago of Eve and I reading it and having a brief (and fun!) discussion:
Why conversation is important
A while back, I shared some disturbing statistics about children and body image, via the Huffington Post. They’re worth repeating here:
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner
- 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of getting fat
- in a survey of girls approximately 14-18 years:
– more than 59% were trying to lose weight
– in the last 30 days prior to survey, over 18% had starved themselves for a day or more to lose weight
– 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight (source: CDC, 2004)
Reading these is what prompted me to write the poem, and I think it’s important for parents (and teachers, and everyone who has an influence on children!) to be aware of how early these issues can start – and how discussion can be critical for prevention.
I’ve shared that my own body image struggles began at the age of 3, which is I feel has driven this passion to help spread awareness for raising body-confident kids. And it’s only just begun!
Have you started the conversation?
If you’ve started the Body Love conversation with your kids, I’d love to hear about your experience (including any questions that came up). Please share in the comments below!
Would you like to read this to your children regularly?
Update December 2016: I’ve recently converted this poem into a picture eBook (complete with children’s illustrations)! It’s available for download here. Enjoy!
Remember: When you shine your gifts, you define your beauty