Bringing Up Men and Positive Body Image

Over on Instagram last week there was a flurry of inspiring posts on ‘positive body image’— one of my favourite being from my blogging buddy Alison who posted a pic of herself and her daughter in matching swimming costumes.

When I saw it I literally did a double take and thought—

‘Wow — she’s so brave’

— and then had to have a word with myself and ask ‘Why is that brave?’.

Why is a normal woman ‘brave’ for posing in a swimming costume?

If she was a model, would I be thinking that?

Nope. Of course I wouldn’t.

Positive Body Image

Then I thought about a photo that my boy had taken of me whilst we were in Cornwall.

We’d spotted a fantastically ‘Instagrammable’ wall and I’d been keen for him to take a photo of me standing against it. I was really excited about my photo opportunity — the perfect Kodak moment — and I was very excited about sharing it on my Instagram feed.

But when I saw it I was so disappointed.

I didn’t look like the woman I was hoping to see. And no filter would make me thinner and taller — stretch my fat little dumpy legs — and turn me into the young, thin beauty that I aspired to be.

So I didn’t post it.

positive body image
I stuck with a safe and boring head-shot instead

In Search of a Positive Body Image

So seeing Alison’s post, a couple of days later, really resonated with me. Positive body image is such a rarity.

Why are we so unkind to ourselves?

Why is our attitude to female body image so warped?

I know it’s a cliché but the media — and social media — is most definitely to blame.

Films, magazines and billboards regularly remind us of how we ‘should’ look. And these days Facebook and Instagram are full of pictures of pouting girls and preening boys. There’s a growing number of women who seem utterly obsessed with fake eyelashes, painted eyebrows, Botox, fillers, liposuction…

I’m working in a young industry too — and that doesn’t help matters.

Blogging is for the Young

The majority of my very best blogging friends are at least 5, 10, even 20 years my junior and I’m faced with images of younger women on my social feeds most of the time.

Blogging and You-Tubing are now ‘career choices’ for many young girls; when asked what they want to be when they grow up.

Forty-something seems a bit of a weird age to be when you’re a blogger. Some fashion brands seem to shy away from working with ‘older’ women, almost as if they don’t want to taint their image and, in doing so, turn off the younger generation of shoppers.

Some, on the other hand, embrace social influencers of every generation; which in my mind is a really potent thing to do.

For a brand to appeal as much to a 20 year old as it does to a 50 year old — without turning the other off or negatively influencing them — is surely like attaining the holy grail, in the retail world.

Bringing Up Men

I don’t have a daughter but I am bringing up the next generation of men.

And I want them to grow up accepting and appreciating different female shapes and sizes, rather than expecting that all women should look like the airbrushed beauties you see in magazines and films.

I want my boys to grow up seeing their mama comfortable and confident in her size 14 jeans; rather than being ashamed that her bottom doesn’t fit into a size 10.

I want them to see me looking happy and self assured in photographs and know that this is what normal women look like.

So that when they’re men — with wives and girlfriends (or boyfriends) of their own — they’ll be the ones championing real women.

That the females surrounding them will never have to worry — or think twice — about sucking in their tummies or showing a little bit of cellulite.

That my boys will never, ever, make fun of them because their legs are fat or their skin isn’t perfect — and they’ll be 100% confident of posting photos of themselves in a swimming costume.

Because the men — that I have been a role model for — will make them feel beautiful.

With my influence there’s a possibility that my two little sons — and a whole generation of men being brought up by the women of today — will shatter this crazy warped idea of perfection. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Being Kinder to Ourselves

And, as for me, I posted that photo.

I made a pact with myself to try and be ‘braver’ — to not let my body-demons get the better of me — and to be less influenced by what I ‘anticipate’ people will think.

Because as I learnt today — as a direct result of posting that photo — other people simply aren’t looking at me with the same critical eyes, that I reserve for myself.

And that’s quite a powerful thing to remember.

positive body image
‘That’ photo.

Please share, if you like this!

About Caro Davies

Caro Davies art directed fashion and interiors before leaving the world of design to pursue a career in social media. She can now be found chasing the light — and two small twin boys.

27 thoughts on “Bringing Up Men and Positive Body Image

  1. Absolutely love this post Caro. It’s a daily battle for me when it comes to body image, one minute I embrace the way I look and the next I think I want to be slimmer/skinny/taller/toned. There is a daily war waged in all of us I think. Like you I want to be body positive around my children and show them confidence. I’m terrible for photos and I’m so self critical, being too short, legs to stubby and big, blah blah, the list is endless. I’d hate for my girls to feel that way about their body so why do I let myself do it? Ridiculous! xx

    1. It’s so hard isn’t it? Even after I wrote this, I spent the last week pulling apart the fact that I’ve put so much weight on since my accident and my legs look ‘abnormal’. They’re really fat and are covered in cellulite. That’s what I was telling myself just a couple of days ago!! SO horrible!! I’d never say things like that to anyone else — why I speak to myself in that way is beyond me. Trying to shield the boys from my negative body image is one of the biggest things I can do a a mother. I’d hate for them to be as critical of themselves — or others — as I am of myself.

  2. I have grown in confidence over the last few years sharing more photos of myself for my blog, but it still isn’t easy being so ‘there’. I am actually really happy with the way I look these days at nearly 40, even though I had a much better figure when I was 20! This is such a huge issue especially with us Mums, sadly. Jess x

  3. ahem one of your blogging besties is the same age as you, you are bloody gorgeous your beauty just shines out of you. And that is what other people see. We are terrible for not seeing this ourselves but we should and do you know what our audience are the first internet savvy generation that lovely lot are so growing with us x

    1. Haha! This made me smile!! You are SO right!! Hopefully the younger generation will see all the pics of us women on social media and start to see what’s ‘normal’. Airbrushed and Botox-filled are definitely not normal!! xx

  4. I’ve been looking forward to reading this post since you posted it and talking to you yesterday about this very subject, I knew we both felt the same about this issue. I’m definitely guilty of this too! I take so many pictures before I find one shot that I’m prepared to share – and even then I cringe and spot that most unflattering aspects of the picture. This is most definitely NOT something I want to pass on to my beautiful girls. Well written Caro xxxx

    1. Thanks lovely. I cringed again posting a pic of myself yesterday with my legs out. Definitely my nemesis and the part of my body that I feel most self conscious about. When you speak to others, you realise that the majority of us feel the same way though. It’s rare when you find someone who’s totally confident in the way they look. I wish I had a little more self confidence!! This blog is definitely making me step out of my comfort zone!!! It’s a great way of making myself be a little braver xx

  5. This post, I love it Caro. I feel exactly the same and I LOVE that photo of you, we are far more critical of ourselves than others are but equally I want my boy to embrace women or men and their bodies and not judge. You’re truly gorgeous, you have a really beautiful face, pretty hair and a truly lovely smile. Keep on being you lovely. And that wall ? X x

    1. Aah bless you lovely — it’s taken me so long to get around to replying to all my comments. I think yours was definitely one of my favourites. As mothers of boys I think we need to try and be ambassadors for all the future generations of women!! I so want my boys to see their mama being confident in her own skin. It’s hard though isn’t it? I’m my own worst critic!! xxx

  6. Love, love, LOVE everything about this post and 100% agree. I really enjoyed seeing all the IG posts from my favourite bloggers about body confidence too – the only way society is going to change is from the ground up, and that starts with us as women celebrating ourselves.

  7. See now I see that photo and think the best kodak photo ever with that wall your amazing patterns and colors in your outfit and your happy smile. IT’s perfection. I have been talking on my blog alot about this lately too and in fact on my ig I think two days ago or yesterday. It’s hard how we judge ourselves and we need to think how this will impact our children and the way they see themselves too. It’s hard not to be our own worse critics and social media can make it that much more harder on us with more pressure to look like what we don’t look like I am the worse and have always struggled with it. But I am trying to do better it’s been a real year of eye openings. Great post. I loved Ali post too. We all need to inspire each other and motivate each other that we are all beautiful in our way not a way that we think we should be. Let’s look through our children’s eyes and see how they perceive us not how we perceive ourselves. It would be much more positive I can guarantee it.

    1. Thanks so much Jenny. We really are our own worst enemies, aren’t we? I would never be so critical of anyone else. And you’re right about seeing ourselves through our childrens’ eyes :) xx

  8. I love absolutely everything about this post!
    I have put in over three stone since I started blogging as it had taken me from a job that I was highly active in to something very much home based and because of this my confidence has plummeted hugely!
    I have cancelled a photo shot for my blog four times already as I know in not gong to like what I see, but thanks to you and all the other positive posts I have seen this week I’m going to book it in, get it done and hope to like what I see as that is me xx

    1. Aaah thanks darling. And yes. I totally understand about the weight gain. I’ve put on a stone and a half in the last 4 months; since knackering my knee skiing. I can’t ever remember being this self conscious before but no-one else seems to notice — apart from me. It just goes to show that we are our own worst critics. Get that photoshoot booked!!! I bet — in 40 years time — you’ll look back on the pics and think how beautiful you once were!! :)

  9. This is such a good read and I totally know what you mean. I’m so critical of myself in photos and you can’t help but compare – then I have a word with myself and try to just post anyway but sometimes it’s just delete delete delete! This photo of you is ace! Such a happy, gorgeous photo, you are a gorgeous gal Caro! Xx

    1. Aaah thanks lovely. Practically everyone I’ve spoken to is hyper-critcal of themselves — but weirdly their friends and family are all so complimentary. There’s a lesson in that, for sure!! xx

  10. Love the end of this, I have made this pact with myself too. Some days I feel great other not so much but it’s great to know others don’t see me the way I sometimes see myself.

    1. Aah thanks Kate!

      And yes — the lovely comments I received yesterday, from posting the pic on Instagram, were such an eye-opener. ALL of them said that they don’t see me as I see myself. No-one else is hyper-critical — they just see a happy face and a big smile — not wrinkles and big legs!!! It really made me realise that I’m perhaps too harsh on myself. I think that’s true for most women — we should really give ourselves a break xx

  11. I love this post! I had my husband take some photos of me last week after G’s birthday with all intentions of using them for Instagram. When I scrolled through I hated them, and felt like I looked dumpy and uncomfortable, yesterday I deleted them all from my phone and you know what, I was giggling on almost every one because we were being silly, I’d had a few wines and we were happy. And yet I didn’t have the confidence to post them, legs too pale, ar,s too flabby. And who really cares other than me? I need to take a leaf out of your book xxx

    1. Thanks Jo — it’s SO hard isn’t it? I know just how you feel. I dithered for AGES about posting it. And then again yesterday when I posted one with my legs out. And, as you say, who cares??! Who would look and really be that critical? Apart from ourselves? We need to start being a little kinder to ourselves — and more confident! :)

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