Mums – Improving Your Body Image

Ok mums…it’s time to have a chat. From what I understand you’ve grown a human being inside of you for 9 months…then delivered it into this world (however, it came out…the fact is…it came out). You then go on to persevere through the most intense sleep deprivation of your life, feed your child at regular intervals, cuddle them, play with them, talk to them, sing to them, bath them, change them, stare into their beautiful eyes for hours on end marvelling at your creation…and then repeat it all over again. And again. And again. You go through all this and most likely still feel an incredible sense of love towards your child (most of the timeĀ ?) despite…well despite the torture they put you through!

Wow you are amazing right!

Yet, after all the kindness and love you show your little bundle of torturous joy, you turn to yourself in the mirror and speak only harsh criticisms and put downs. “I’m fat” “I’m ugly” “Look at those stretch marks, I look disfigured” “Why do other mums seem to have it all together but I can barely get out of my pyjamas!?” And on it goes. The endless internal chatter of criticism and hate towards our bodies. Does any of this ring true for you? It certainly has for me at timesĀ ?

So how do we get past this? How do mums improve their body image? Here are my tips:

  1. Turn the attention away from your appearance. Our appearance is one aspect of us. In this day and age it is too easy to place far too much importance on our external appearance, and not nearly as much on our other amazing attributes. Try and shift your attention to some of the incredible things your body can do (e.g. create a life and keep it alive for starters!)
  2. Have some self-compassion. You know all that love and kindness you show your child? See if you can turn some of that back towards yourself. What would you say to that little bundle of joy if they were saying some of these harsh criticisms to themselves? What language would you use? How would you respond?
  3. Notice that internal chit-chatter for what it is…just internal chit-chatter. We have thousands of thoughts a day. But they are just that…thoughts. Not necessarily fact or reality. When we get caught up in them they can certainly do a lot of damage though. To assist with this, try and bring awareness to some of your internal chatter. When you notice the thought “I’m fat” pop up, see if you can instead say to yourself “I’m noticing I’m having the thought that I’m fat”. This can help create some much needed space from your thoughts and subsequently reduce the damaging impact they can have on your mood and self-worth.

It’s time to be kind to yourselves mums. There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect mum’. We’re all trying to do our very best with the resources that we have. When you’re on your death bed and reflecting upon your life, are you going to be thinking “Gee I wish I had of spent more time worrying about my body image”? That time and energy will be way better placed on being present with your child.

Dr Danielle McCarthy

Clinical Psychologist