In Denmark we have sports in the schools just like many other countries. The issue is that over 50% of the young people don’t want to bath after sports, because they feel that it is embarrassing.
An article in the danish newspaper “Jyllands Posten”, there is an interviews with 2 young girls, one is 13 years old and the other is 16 years old. The 13 years old Mie tells that there is a queue of students to the teachers changing room (which they are allowed to use), because they are to embarrassed to be nude in front of the other students. She tells “Many believe that children think nudity is strange, but I think that it is mostly the adults who think it is strange to be naked. That makes the children feel in the same way too”.
I believe she is right!
I have a son and he doesn’t think much about body image and nakedness, but I have noticed that when me and my wife talk about “we are getting a little too chubby, and we must exercise” – he also begins to talk about size. I think that parents should think a lot more about the signals we send to the children. Children learn a lot from their parents and when we as parents embraces that the body isn’t perfect as it is and is shy about our own body. Then our children will feel the same way too.
In my opinion it can be said with one sentence “Take responsibility”.
Take responsibility as parents and think about which signals you send to your children and do remember that your acts will also have influence on how your children will act. Do you really want your children to have problems with their own body image, problems with their self-esteem and to be ashamed about who they are? I know for sure that is not what I want for my child. When you as parents is afraid to show your naked body to your child, you make more harm than you expect. You might do it because you think you protect your child, but instead you make the body something shameful. If a child can’t look on a normal naked body, then they will learn from the medias where all the pictures is of perfect bodies and Photoshopped – that is not a body that I want my child to compare hes/hers body to.
In the same way as the parents has to take responsibilty, society need to take responsibility too. We need to build our culture to respect the human body as it is and not embrace the photoshopped body. We can do this, if we all together stop being so afraid of breastfeeding in public, stop being afraid of seeing a topless woman in a park or beach, stop being afraid of people being different and stop being afraid of the naked body.
If you are afraid looking on the naked body, what scares you? I think most people who is scared or offended by the naked body, in reality is afraid of their own body and their body image. Instead they should take a look on themself and think what can I change, so that I feel more confident in my own skin.
There are many benefits with solving the problem with children and young people having body image issues. There is many money spend on psychologists and psychiatrists etc. in the society because people simply can’t live up to the body image that is in the media. These money should be spend differently. The biggest benefit is of course for each person who doesn’t who doesn’t need to cope with body shame and low self esteem.
16 years old Frederikke from the article in Jyllands Posten says it very well “I have always been able to keep up with how the body is going to look like in reality , instead of only to imagine how one should look through the media.”. What more can you wish for than that your child has a natural and healthy look upon how their body evolves. That is how every child should grow up, not worrying about if their body is perfect.