The Blog

Obsessions of a Parent - How Our Body Image Can Affect Our Children

If we can't accept what we look like then how do our children stand a chance in a society that constantly sends out messages about how they expect us to appear?

When was the last time you woke up, looked in the mirror and thought: "I look fabulous?"

I don't know anyone that would say that to themselves first thing.

But I do know men and women who rush to the bathroom before their partner wakes to clean their teeth, splash on the aftershave or perfume, apply make-up and get back into bed!

The obsession era is upon us - or maybe it's always been here in a more subtle way. How does this affect our children? They are bombarded with air-brushed images of perfection in the media. So how are parents helping children if they reinforce these messages - suggesting that this is how they must look? Surely we can't airbrush ourselves first thing in the morning or any time. Or can we?

Every time my 19-year-old client came home from uni her mother had another surgical lift, skin peel or frozen face from too many botox injections.

She was so wrapped in her insecurities she didn't realise what damage she was causing her daughter.

I had a call from my client's aunt asking me to help her niece and to talk to her sister.

She was worried about her niece who had her lips plumped with collagen injections like her mother's. It was turning into a competition between mother and daughter as to who had the biggest pout and the least cellulite.

"How can I ever look as perfect as my mother?" the daughter asked at our first session.

Early nights, regular exercise, a well balanced diet plus some tips on make-up and clothes were the best options they could both work on. I began coaching the mother about her own confidence, self-belief and image. We talked about the damage she was causing her daughter.

Following our sessions the mother began to accept her age and looks and stopped having further cosmetic surgery.

If we can't accept what we look like then how do our children stand a chance in a society that constantly sends out messages about how they expect us to appear?

I recently bumped into an old school friend and was shocked because she was almost unrecognisable. She used to be pretty, popular with the boys and had a figure we all wanted.

Too much money and wanting to be part of the celebrity in-crowd sent her on a downward spiral of constant and irreversible cosmetic surgery. Thankfully she's now helping herself by focusing on a business and her two daughters appear not to have been affected.

The way we see ourselves and how others perceive us can be completely different.

I'm not against doing what makes you feel and look good, but when it becomes an obsession that affects your children then it's time to reassess.

There are many campaigns, including one from Body Gossip, to encourage positive body image without going down drastic routes.

Lines and wrinkles give us character as we grow older. Ageing is a natural process and cosmetic surgery is not always the answer.

By building our self-belief and accepting our body image we can instill confidence in those around us.

There may be medical or psychological reasons which cosmetic surgery can help.

A friend had her breasts made smaller because they were causing discomfort.

Another friend had breast enlargement because her chest and shoulders were caving in. This helped her posture and confidence.

A third friend had uncomfortable bags under her eyes which when removed helped her look and feel better.

A boy thought his mother beautiful and feared he could never live up to her expectations. He was sixteen. She told him he was ugly and spotty and he became obsessed with dieting to please her. He hated how he looked. He wasn't doing well at school.

The irony was she called me to help him with his confidence issues. What she didn't realise until after I started coaching him was that she had caused his insecurities.

I worked with them both on building a relationship. His mother realised she needed to encourage and praise her son. She spent more quality time with him and supported him in his school work. He got 9 GCSE's and now has a girlfriend.

I'm not against doing what makes you feel and look good. These money-making miracle injections can, in moderation, help you look better. However, when it becomes an obsession and you can't even smile because all expression on your face is lost, then maybe it's time to reassess what you're doing to yourself and others.

Love and accept yourself for who you are and what you look like. There are other ways to look and feel fabulous including many wonderful beauty products on the market to enhance your skin tone to give you a boost. Experiment with new products - not your children's mindset.

The Mind Makeover Artist