7 Signs You Grew Up With A Body Positive Parent
If you're a body positive person, it's likely the result of a lot of self-discovery, positive influences, and all-around hard work. For me, body positivity started a lot earlier than I realized at the time, and as an adult I can see how having body positive parents probably influenced that.
My relationship with my parents wasn't perfect growing up (they were pissed at me for about 150 percent of my adolescence), but looking back, I see that they were body positive before I even knew what the phrase "body positive" actually meant. Don't get me wrong: My parents were tough, blue collar Cleveland folks who didn't believe in constantly awarding gold stars or fawning endlessly over their kids to a chorus of eye rolls from everyone else. If I were to tell my dad that he is body positive, he'd most likely scoff at the idea, dubbing it sentimental bullshit that Millennials focus on when they should be focused on raking leaves and reading The Economist.
At the same time, my parents also never let us feel badly about our bodies, our appearances, or the way we wished to present ourselves to the world. As a chubby kid, this made all the difference in how I took criticism from other people, and continues to make a difference in how I approach the world today. Not everyone has the good fortune of having body positive parents, but here are the signs that you do.
1. They Never Blamed Your Body For Your Problems
My childhood was great, but it definitely came with its share of hardships. As a childhood chubster, I definitely experienced my fair share of bullying at school. Though my parents recognized that kids were bullying me because of my weight, they never allowed me to think that it was really the root of the problem. As a result, I never walked away from an interaction with my parents feeling like I should lose weight to solve my problems. Their advice was something along the lines of "fuck the haters," without explicitly approving the use of the F-bomb.
2. They Defended You From Body Shaming
When I was five, a school nurse took me aside and told me I was "too chubby." I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, since I was too young to be cognizant of my own body (and its apparent failings). I told my mom what she said, shrugging my shoulders at the thought of it. I wasn't aware of how damaging that nurse's words could be to someone so young, but my mom definitely was.
She went to the school the next day and gave her a mouthful. In her mind, I had plenty of years ahead of me to deal with body shaming, and that nurse had no right to make me start now. As an adult, I appreciate that she did that for me, and hope all parents would do the same.
3. You Never Overheard Negative Self Talk
I know my mom has sometimes felt poorly about her weight and appearance, but I very rarely heard that come out of her mouth when I was growing up. I'm not sure if she was consciously or subconsciously protecting me from negative self-talk, but I certainly do appreciate it. To his credit, my father has always been proud of his body. Maybe even a little too proud, considering we overheard how good he thought he looked every day.
4. They Never Told You What To Wear
Horizontal stripes, patent leather shoes, and a leotard: I was a very girly girl, and despite the fact that I was chubby, my parents never tried to dress me to hide it. In fact, they let me wear whatever the hell I wanted, and complimented me on my serious style game.
5. They Taught You Never To Judge People By Their Appearances
As an adult, I'm the last person to judge someone by the way their body looks. I know that part of that credit goes to my parents, who taught me to never make assumptions about someone's lifestyle or personality based on what they look like on the outside.
6. Food Was Never Assigned A Moral Code
My parents generally kept it healthy in the kitchen (save for the occasional treats), but they never made our food choices feel "good" or "bad." There were no meals labeled "guilt-free" and no whispers of "rewards." Food was just food: It was there to nourish, enjoy, and occasionally eat a ton of.
7. No Matter What You Looked Like, You Knew They Loved You Anyways
My siblings and I are all different shapes and sizes, and our parents have never made any of us feel weird or less-than-worthy because of it. The way we looked was never associated with how much respect or care they gave us, and that lesson has carried us all into adulthood with particularly open minds.
I know this all isn't the same for everyone, and unfortunately, many parents don't practice body positivity at all. I can't comment on anyone else's decisions, but I will say this: Growing up with a body positive parent is extraordinarily lucky, and I'm grateful to be able to say I did.
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Images: Amanda Richards