As mentioned in Blog 4, “It’s easier to build a child than to repair an adult.” Yet, we are the children who become adults. To a great extent, our self-image comes from the physical and emotional input we received as children. Although media driven images and expectations certainly have an effect, messages from significant others have an even more dramatic impact on how we feel physically and emotionally about our bodies as adults. This is especially significant when we are spending so much more time with our families.
Our parents have the most profound effect on our self-image. If they like how we look and tell us so, we face the world with a head-start. If, on the other hand, our parents dislike our appearance, our body image will be tremendously influenced in a negative way. (Engel, 2006)
Barbara Streisand gave a good anecdote to support this idea as she recalled her childhood in an interview with Jay Carr (1996) in The Boston Globe. She tells him that “It’s actually my mother who never told me I was pretty. The words in the film The Mirror Has Two Faces are her words when I asked her what I looked like when I was a little girl. You know we play out the roles that our parents assign to us. I was the smart kid. I was the funny kid. My sister was the pretty kid. We play our roles until we come into a state of consciousness that says, ‘I will separate from my parents’ view of me’ once you get mature enough. That’s what’s wonderful about getting older. You’re not stuck in the mud of the pattern. You make your choices.” The final factor for this discussion is the major reason for beginning the blog with the topic of self-image and the associate self-care. That is, a major element that influences our self-image is whether our parents are satisfied with the way they look. Parents with a poor body image can pass on their negative attitudes and feelings to their children, causing them to dislike their own bodies. That’s why we need to address this issue before we can begin to help the children as our role as the school counselor places us in this position for many children in our care.
It’s up to the leaders in the school to instill enough confidence in each and every student so that they can have a positive self-image. It’s the messages that we receive that effect how we feel. The old quote, “Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive” should be our mantra. That is, everyone has negative features and traits, but we have so many more positive one, so we need to concentrate on those. What we think we are, we are! Perception rules!
This brings us to an important realization. The pictures in the fashion magazines are to sell products, not images of less than adequate people. The pictures are manipulated by technology so that we will buy. The people behind the magazine do not seem to care how this makes us feel. So, don’t fall for it. Remember that no on is nearly as critical, or as noticing of our shortcomings as we are. If we don’t “notice” them or call attention to them, then others will not either.
Our task is to be accepting of others, so that we can learn to accept ourselves and teach our children and teens to accept themselves!
Carr, J. (1996). Streisand looks in mirror, Sees a funny girl. The Courier Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. November 17, 1996.
Engel, B. (2006, February 24). Working together to create an abuse free future. Retrieved from http://www.beverlyengel.com/newsletter/2-24-2006.htm.