What if every girl learned to love her body? We interview Jessica Sanders, author of “Love Your Body”, the new book for tween girls.
Loving your body. It’s a simple concept that at times is hard to grasp in today’s high pressure society. With social media use tweens are exposed daily to Instagram “influencers” photoshopping their bodies, heavy filters passed off as “natural looks” and the rise of the flawless selfie. There’s a constant pressure to look perfect – whatever ‘perfect’ may mean.
It’s a serious concept with dangerous repercussions; the pursuit of perfection when perfection itself is warped by technology. As parents we try and change this message to one of strength, self acceptance and love – a message that tween girls all around the world need to hear.
Thankfully there are some talented and motivated role models out there who have a strong desire to fight this common narrative, who see the importance in spreading these lessons of self-love and acceptance to all tweens; girls especially. One such role model that we love is social worker, founder of Re-shape Social Enterprises and author of “Love Your Body”, Jessica Sanders.
“Love Your Body” is an empowering book that supports girls in their own positive body image journey; encouraging girls to see their body as a strong and incredible instrument, one that allows them to do, to see and to feel. Jessica introduces the concept of self-love as an on-going journey and includes practical self-care tips with a focus on building resilience and emotional intelligence.
With a target age group of 8-12 year olds, this book is perfect for tween girls – not just those necessarily displaying signs of negative body image. It can even benefit 6-7 year olds if accompanied by an adult. Every girl, no matter what, deserves to be taught about self-love and self-acceptance.
Illustrated by Brazilian artist Carol Rossetti, the book also features powerful illustrations where diversity and difference is celebrated. Even so called body ‘imperfections’ are normalised as girls explore, create and embrace who they are.
“Well, people tend to look at inspiration as some kind of magic that comes from above at three in the morning and we wake up screaming ‘eureka’… well, at least for me, it never worked this way. Creativity is more like a muscle that we must work every day to keep it functioning. Diversity of bodies is everywhere, we just need to look around. As an artist, I feel the most important thing is to do that: look around, see the people nearby, hear what they have to say, get involved with their stories – see beauty and depth in everyday life.”
Carol Rosetti, Illustrator
We were lucky enough to chat with author Jessica Sanders about “Love Your Body”, her take on body image and the body-positive messages we can be sending as parents of tween girls.
We are so excited to read your new book, and have of course pre-ordered a copy! Can you tell us a bit about your motivation behind writing this book?
Thank you so much! My primary motivation behind creating Love Your Body has always been a desire to combat the dominant narrative, that a girl’s worth is determined by her appearance. This message is sent loud and clear through all forms of media and girls are picking up on it earlier and earlier. I wanted to tell girls a different story, that their bodies are incredible instruments to support them in living their lives, and that they are enough exactly as they are.
How do you introduce concepts like self-love and self-acceptance? Do you have any tips for our mums and parents?
In the book, I introduce self-love as “loving yourself for both what is on the inside and what is on the outside.” I explain to the reader that self-love is not a destination but a journey full of highs and lows. I tell them that self-love is the most important kind of love “because the relationship you have with yourself and your body is the most important relationship you will ever have.”
Parents; start with the primary message of ‘Love Your Body’ which is to appreciate your body for all that it does for you. Mums in particular, your body has literally created life, you are truly incredible. The second would be to ditch comparison, your body is unique and if you are always trying to be someone else you’ll never be content. Lastly, in conversations around bodies, focus on the functionality of that body – not the way it looks. This very much includes talking about your own body, or someone else’s body; children are always listening.
What do you think are some of the biggest factors our girls are battling today, in terms of how bodies are portrayed to them on a daily basis?
Social media, particularly Instagram, has magnified the pressure of perfection. The beauty ideal has always been unattainable, but now girls also feel forced to undergo expensive and dangerous procedures in the pursuit of it. Additionally, the sheer number of highly edited and curated photos they are exposed to on a daily basis is skewing how they see themselves and others. The invention of the ‘selfie’ means that children can self-objectify themselves anytime, anywhere. It’s an incredibly challenging time to be a girl in terms of body image and self-esteem.
What long-term effects do you think negative body image can do to our girls?
We know from the Dove Global Confidence Report that if a girl doesn’t like how she looks 7 out of 10 will not be assertive in their opinion or stick to a decision. Another 8 in 10 will avoid seeing friends and family or trying out for a team or club. These are just a few examples in the way in which negative body image can shape the course of a girl’s life.
What’s a great way for girls to embrace and explore their own style?
Dressing in clothing that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and like yourself is essential. I also think that dressing for how you feel is very important; you don’t have to stick to a particular style, try exploring and experimenting.
What does “perfectly imperfect” mean to you?
To me “perfectly imperfect” means showing yourself enough compassion to accept yourself despite, and because of, your flaws.
There’s a universal message to all girls inside this book; their bodies don’t determine their worth. This is something we at Somewhere Between absolutely support and we were so excited to discover the release of the book “Love Your Body”. We love the message Jessica sends and the powerful way this book portrays girls as strong and capable, with bodies that are perfectly imperfect however they may be.