"Wooooooow!" My children stared in spellbound admiration as I lifted part of my shirt to expose my fairly well toned abs. I was only doing it for comfort sake and because I felt a little hot in this Arizona climate, but it seemed to have an extra effect on my kids. Seven year old Josh lifted his shirt to compare and looked quite glum at the prospect of his own beautiful, healthy, baby fat adorned belly. Upon his appealing to me I told him that his abs were perfect and if at seven years old his abs looked like mine I would consider myself a terrible, abusive mother.
This news astonished him.
I continued to explain the difference between his growing body and my adult one, citing the need for some baby fat in order to grow properly. The discussion continued into an explanation of and warning against eating disorders. I told them that almost all American women undergo some kind of eating disorder, trying to fit the unrealistic Barbie image, and that some of them even push the behavior to the point of entering the hospital or the grave. He grew somber and upset at that and suggested we banish Barbie dolls and unrealistic images in the media. I countered that while we probably can't handle something that massive, there was one very important thing that he could do. As my son is handsome, athletic, intelligent, and charismatic it is quite certain that when he gets older the ladies will fall all over him even more than they have hitherto done. He can set the standard for himself, making it known that he honors a woman for having a healthy, natural body and by shunning those ideas of stereotypical Mattel beauty, and that any woman who expects to gain his attention had better understand that. A desirable man with that kind of perspective does more good than he knows and can truly change lives for the better, or even rescue them completely.
I told my children that I myself had been caught up in the whole negative body image thing for a while until heaven gave me a wake up call, and let them know that if they continued with the physical exercise routine they presently have and follow the nutritional guidelines they already do, that they will be healthy and exactly what God intended them to be. Nothing more would prove necessary. My daughter, in her passionate affection toward her mommy declared that when she grew up she wanted to look just like me.
"No," I said. "There is someone else that I insist you look like and I require you look like." Here I gave her that 'stern mother' look - you know the one.
"Like myself!" She boisterously exclaimed with a happy, beautiful smile.
"You got it." I replied and smiled right back.