Sex in the media. Porn. Sexting.
What do they all have in common? Yes, sex, but really, what’s the deeper challenge? These are harder to talk about than just describing where babies come from.
Tell me if you agree: I think the challenge is body objectification.
It’s so rampant that we hardly think about it. We’re pummeled with messages about how big our body parts should be, how our hair and nails and skin should look. Why? There are a lot of products and services which get sold through body objectification, and flippant comments on TV catch our attention. It works so well that we’ve almost forgotten that most of the time, how you look doesn’t actually matter.
Teens are especially vulnerable. Do you remember how much you wanted to be liked? How much you wanted to be sexually attractive? Teens are already so awkward as their bodies change and they try to puzzle through social conundrums. When you’re a teen, it is agonizing to think that you’ll never have a boyfriend or girlfriend because your body is somehow “wrong.”
I remember being a teen and worrying that if I missed a spot when shaving my legs, a boy would be disgusted with me or my friends would make fun of me. In college, I had a friend who didn’t shave at all, and I’d stare at her leg hair in fascination. She had a boyfriend, and he didn’t care – it blew my mind! Even so, 20 years later, with plenty of friends who don’t shave, I’ve never been able to kick the sense that I should, and so I do. I know I’m paying for shaving cream even though my family and friends would absolutely accept my body hair. And yet, I spend that money rather than working on accepting my body and not worrying about what others might think.
Most of us are trapped this way. Somehow it’s hard to remember that it’s the size of your heart, not the size of anything else, that really matters. That real beauty has nothing to do with makeup or clothes. We spend so much money avoiding our shame, trying to be likeable and lovable.
How do you convince your child that they are likeable and lovable, with the body they naturally have? That’s the deeper challenge. I have some strategies I’ll be sharing in the teleseminar this week, and if you haven’t signed up for it, here’s the link.
I’d love to hear how you’ve tackled body objectification in your life and with your kids. Please add your comment below.
In support of you,