In a world where it seems we’re constantly surrounded by images of “perfect” people in the media and a seemingly never ending stream of influencers spruiking fitspiration and the latest keto diet, it’s no surprise that it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to talking about body image with our children.
But Taryn Brumfitt, founder of The Body Image Movement and fiercely passionate advocate working to switch the narrative around hating our bodies, is here to help.
Taryn’s brand new kids book, Embrace Your Body, aims to teach kids to love who they are and help start important conversations between parents and their little people.
We talk to Taryn about the importance of sharing this message with our kids from a young age and how we can set a good example to them at home.
How important is it to target kids in this 3-7 year old age bracket with this message about loving their bodies?
So important! They are sponges and absorb everything at this age. We must help our kids to build a foundation of values based on who they are and how they feel, as opposed to being obsessed with how they look. It’s our job as parents and carers to be the positive role models that our kids so desperately need.
You do a lot of work in schools; are you seeing children this young already at war with their bodies? Where do you think this is coming from?
Yes, without a doubt and sadly it’s getting younger and younger.
The media is one reason, but in my experience most of the body dissatisfaction I see in young children starts in the home. Children are exposed to dieting, scales, talk about weight loss, calories and guilty eating – they pick up our unhelpful behaviours. That’s why it’s so important as parents to protect our children by providing them with an environment that celebrates diversity and encourages healthy and intuitive eating, and moving our bodies for pleasure and not punishment.
How does your upcoming documentary Embrace Kids expand on the issues that you’ve addressed in the picture book?
Embrace Kids is a 60-minute documentary on positive body image for 8-12 year olds. The film came about because of the overwhelming feedback I received from people who had seen my first documentary, Embrace, saying ‘I wish there was a version for kids!’ The film will cover subjects like diversity and how unique we are, whilst celebrating all of the things our body can do.
We’ll be interviewing high profile celebrities and kids of all shapes, sizes, colour and abilities. The film will be a celebration of the Body Image Movement’s motto “Your body is not an ornament; it is the vehicle to your dreams”. We have the most incredible team of Executive Producers including Celeste Barber, Teresa Palmer and Natasha Stott Despoja and a health professional team including Dr Zali Yager (Associate Professor Victoria University) and Dr Ivanka Prichard (Flinders University) to ensure the creative content is safe and effective in the classroom.
Taryn’s Top Tips for parents to teach children to EMBRACE their bodies and be accepting of others
- Role model body positivity by voicing your appreciation for what your body can do
- Limit negative discussion about bodies in terms of weight and appearance – your own and other people’s
- Celebrate the diversity of different body shapes, sizes and colours
- Give praise related to function and effort over appearance and achievement
- Engage in fun movement and eating healthy foods because you enjoy them, not because ‘we have to’
How is this done? Let’s break it down:
- Hide the scales or at least don’t let your kids see you on them
- Make a pact with your friends to never talk negatively about your body or the bodies of others again
- Walk around naked in your home – letting your kids see you comfortable in your body sends a very clear message
- No more DIETS – Diet is a 4-letter word and the first 3 letters spell DIE, it’s a sign for sure
- Remove magazines or any other content from your home that isn’t ‘body positive’
- Eat a rainbow of food and educate your kids on how to nourish their bodies for energy and vitality
- Remove ‘good food’ or ‘bad food’ from your vocabulary.
- Put some positive affirmations up on the fridge about diversity, inclusivity and positive body image
Embrace Your Body by Taryn Brumfitt is published by Penguin Random House Australia
You can help change lives by supporting the Embrace Kids documentary: