Mom's Body Image

Earlier this year, I was challenged to write my health goals at this point in my life. I’ve set lots of health goals in the past, but most of them have been weight-related. A number. A size.

This time, I felt God leading me a different direction with my health goals. When I started running almost 16 months ago, my motivation was just to get to a certain number on the scale. But over the course of time, it became less about weight and more about health and strength.

The goals I wrote down were this:

Health Goals

Big J read these goals as he climbed up on to my lap that morning and asked wondered if “leaner” meant “skinnier.” I was kind of floored that the thought of “skinny” had popped into his mind. I don’t talk about weight much in front of them, and he’s a boy – why was he thinking about skinny? Isn’t it girls who think about that all the time?

I’m actually glad those words came out of his mouth. I had the chance to explain to him that being lean was more about getting rid of unhealthy fat and not about being thin. He seemed to get that, and he liked that my list also included getting stronger because boys think muscles are cool. Mom win.

Being a boy mom, I thought I had dodged the issue of my body image affecting the body image of my children. But that moment with Big J proved to me why my own body image is just as important to my sons as it would have been to my daughters.

Even though my own weight hadn’t been discussed with Big J, he had still heard the word skinny somewhere and associated it with a reason to workout and eat differently. I don’t like the word skinny. I don’t think it is a healthy word for anyone to use. Well sure, it feels nice to have someone say, “You look so skinny!” But skinny has nothing to do with healthy.

I’ve read many times that a boy learns a lot about the kind of woman he wants to date and marry from his mother. If the boys were to get used to the kind of mindset that goes along with “skinny,” I’m afraid of what their standards would be for a woman in their life.

I obviously believe what’s on the inside matters most for friendships, relationships, marriage, and so on. Appearance does not come before the heart, the faith, the soul. But since we are trying to raise our boys to live healthy, active lifestyles, I pray they will find a woman who also enjoys being healthy and active, not one focused on doing anything to be skinny.

It’s not just girls who look at their mom to shape their thoughts on beauty. While the boys are learning a lot about their own body image from The Hubby, they are forming an idea of a woman’s healthy body image from watching and listening to me – their mom.

I want what I say and do in regards to my health and body to drown out the messages the world sends about women and their bodies.

I’m aiming for healthy, strong, lean, and energetic, not just for my own good, but for these young men in my house who need to know “skinny” is not the most important thing.