Would you starve your child? Someone else's child? Your son? Your daughter?
Would you stare at your child for hours each day, scowling, pinching and poking at the soft flesh that makes her human?
Would you make your daughter feel ashamed of every single imperfection?
Would you repeatedly tell her friends about how disgustingly fat and hideous she is?
When friends compliment her natural beauty, would you correct them and explain that she cannot possibly be beautiful because she has flat boobs, a double chin and cellulite from knee to hip?
Would you refuse to take photos of her, holding a hand over her face when a friend goes to snap a happy memory - explaining that she is far too ugly for her image to be permanently captured?
Would you refuse to let your child go swimming - explaining that no one should have to see her wobbly tummy and dimply thighs?
Would you restrict her diet, deprive her of the energy that she needs to get through a school day?
Would you make her watch you eat while she sits quietly concentrating on the pain of hunger she feels deep within her tummy?
Would you force her to record every mouthful she eats as a point or a sin - strictly teaching her that every morsel should be measured and controlled?
Would you punish your child for eating cake? Call her vile, disgusting, weak, repulsive and ugly?
Would you force feed her foods that yesterday were banned - shovelling a mass of food into her little mouth until she physically can't take any more?
Would you make her sick?
When she gives you the gift of grandchildren, will you ridicule her for putting on weight - pointing at her saggy belly and stretch marks?
Children watch us intently. They listen to every single word. They are guided by every single one of your judgments, good or bad, write or wrong, ugly or beautiful, fat or thin and classify each one as law.
They see the way that you look at yourself in the mirror. They wonder why you don't eat the same meals that they do. They question why you won't be their family photos.
They stare and wonder how someone so beautiful, so very wonderful, could ever think of themselves as ugly.
They wonder why you think the very pretend looking lady on the magazine is prettier than you.
Then slowly and in just the same way as they mimic our other everyday movements - (making pretend cups of tea, talking to friends on the banana phone etc) they start to copy.
They start to internalise your feelings and comments and judge themselves and those around them in just the same way as the adults around them - often by stricter standards.
Then they discover that their friends are doing it too and so the self loathing mindset becomes permanently embedded before your baby ever had a chance to learn to love herself.
The way that you value and treat your body will be EXACTLY the way your child treats theirs.
Mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles, grandparents, friends - you MUST treat your body with the exact same love, respect and pride that you would treat a child's.
Show your children how you look after your body, how to put good fuel into it, and how to keep it healthy.
Show them that love your body, that you enjoy all foods both healthy and indulgent. Show them how grateful you are for your body and your health because the ways in which they see you treat your body, will be the exact way that they decide to treat theirs.
I know its difficult. I'm guilty of doing/feeling/saying all of these horrible things to and about myself.
As a mother of three little girls though, and as an auntie, and as friend, I know that the cycle needs to be broken. Now.
Against every one of my natural instincts I am making a promise to myself to only let my children hear my discuss my body in a positive and thankful way. They will see me enjoy food in a healthy way that supports the growth of their healthy relationship with it.
I'll start with that and go from there. Who's with me?
Image - Author's own