Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NEDA Week 2015 - Media Matters

My favorite show growing up was a Disney piece called Kids, Incorporated.  I wanted to be like one of the characters, Renee, as she had hair similar to mine. 

Even as an eight year old, I knew I wasn't pretty.  I wanted to be pretty like Renee.  As the show continued, and Renee grew, I watched her get heavier, and decided I no longer wanted to be like her.  I was probably ten when I recognized that her weight gain was not a good thing.  Didn't matter that in "real life" she was probably hitting puberty, and her body was naturally doing what bodies do.  But to me, she was getting fat.  And I was not going to let my body do that.

Now days, kids are exposed to SO much more media than I was.  I mean, I pretty much watched Kids, Inc, and maybe a few shows on Nickelodeon, but that was it.  I never read teen magazine, I preferred Disney magazine.  I just wasn't exposed to what kids are today.  For that, I consider myself lucky.

As an older teen, I was (and truthfully, continue to be) easily influenced by media.  I remember spending many Friday nights walking around the mall with my BFF at the time.  She loved looking at all the clothes in the store windows.  I loved looking at all the people and deciding if I wanted to be like them or not.  I was twelve.

I had already spent years as a chameleon - I could like whatever the person I was with at the time liked.  This was one more step into the distorted body image challenge that continues to follow me around as an adult.

While I still struggle with food and eating and body image in general, as a teacher, I make certain that my words remain neutral, positive, and encouraging to my students in all areas.  They need to know that who they are right this second is just right.  It doesn't matter what their favorite actor or singer looks like or does.  Their little bodies are exactly as they should be, and just like their job right now is school, their other job is to feed their body healthy stuff, and stay active.  I just hope they remember this when the media becomes their main teacher.

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