I was once very thin and it took a random shopping trip for me to figure that out. As a graduate student, I worked in a research laboratory within my department. Somehow, I ended up going shopping with a undergraduate student with whom I worked. She suggested a size 2 pair of jeans for me. I doubtfully tried them on and, surprisingly, I could “fit” them. After reading Carrie, the Photographer, the latest book from author Kira Parris-Moore, I remembered just how difficult it can be to see an honest, unbiased image of one’s self.
About Carrie, the Photographer
Carrie is a young woman who is forging a successful career as a photographer. Although Carrie takes beautiful pictures of others, she struggles with how she sees herself and develops an eating disorder. This book, for children age 9 and older, follows Carrie’s journey from self-doubt and self-harm to self-love.
Carrie, the Photographer is not just a story, it is a great way to start a conversation with children about body image. Please do not underestimate how important it is to help children develop a healthy image of themselves. A negative body image can lead to many self-destructive behaviors; conversations and modeling healthy behaviors can make a big difference.
After the Book: Let’s talk!
The lack of body confidence as a child or young adult can follow a person for a lifetime. Imagine the negative health impact caused by the mental angst over food and exercise. This is not only an “invitation” for the development of eating disorders, but can also
- lead to other mental health disorders (including depression and anxiety)
- affect one’s ability to be an integral part of the community leading to isolation and feeling unaccepted
- become a building block for toxic relationships with harmful people.
There are direct and indirect messages telling children and young adults that they are not good enough. Play an active role to enforce that they are! Here are a few ways to help:
- Let them know that every BODY is different and make being different normal – because it is!
- Help them find beauty everywhere and they will learn to find beauty in themselves.
- Compliment them often; not just about their looks but on their skills and intelligence, too.
- Don’t insult anybody’s body – not even as a joke. Children can internalize your words even if your words are not aimed toward them.
- Love your own body. Be the model that they need!
- Listen to them. Make their voices matter and help build their self-worth.
Lessons From Carrie, the Photographer
There are many great lessons that you can take away from Carrie, the Photographer. This book is about a young adult named Carrie, but the story is actually told by a younger cousin. This help us remember the need to model healthy behaviors.
Carrie finds strength to get better with support. This lets us know that good support is the key to our success. No matter what your goal is, having support makes it easier to attain that goal. Children need to know that they are never expected to go through any difficulty alone.
We also learn to accept our differences and to focus on what makes us special. Let us make a point to show our children just how special they are to us and to the world.
The final lesson that I want to share is one that I did not expect from a children’s book. Remember: your benchmark for success will change as your self-worth and self-awareness improves! I love this. Too often, we gauge success on the money we make and the things we can buy. However, often, when we value ourselves more, the positive impact we have on others defines our success better than our bank accounts.
I’m Not Mad. I’m Motivated.
I was very active as a teen and a young adult. Running track and participating in marching band, along with many other activities, kept me moving throughout high school. I walked SO MUCH in college and graduated school because I did not start driving until I was 24. And with the diverse group of students I interacted with in graduate school, I also danced a great bit! I stayed active. My body weight was healthy. Yet I found myself worried about how I looked physically many times during those years.
Did my lack of confidence in my appearance leave me vulnerable to a toxic relationship as an adult? Probably likely. But I am Not Mad. I am Motivated. Motivated to share stories like Carrie, the Photographer in the hopes to remind you that you are Beautiful – so that you can remind the children in your life that they are too!