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Re-Writing the Story with...Naomi Ann Smith

Our second guest post comes from @naomiannsmith!

Naomi's Instagram bio reads: 'Plus size, first time mama sharing my journey into motherhood. Learning to love myself a little more, every day.'

These kind of honest, unfiltered and 'laid bare' social media accounts are becoming easier to stumble across and offer a refreshing contrast to the airbrushed content we're used to. This is the kind of celebration of inclusivity that I want to see in children's media!

Q: Children are picking up on the idea of body shame as young as three years old, much of this is influenced by the media they consume, but also the words and actions of family and friends. Did the conversations around you as a child have an impact on your body image?

A: My mum was always a pretty ‘body confident’ person growing up so I can’t say that the way she spoke about herself impacted me negatively, and since a very young age I was never hidden away from her body or made to believe it was negative in any way. However as I got older, hearing people around me speak negatively about their bodies really started to affect me. Both my sisters, who are 7 and 8 years older than me, would talk about their bodies in a negative light at times or talk about dieting, losing weight etc. Even as my mum got older and her body changed she suddenly began talking about herself negatively and it was confusing for me. They are a very small part of the puzzle but it doesn’t take much, even a small passing comment like ‘do my legs look big in these jeans?’ or ‘Oh I can’t wear that because my arms are out’, would start the process of me feeling a certain way about my own body.

I do have to say though, growing up I think the biggest impact came from girls or women around me, who were very clearly smaller than me, calling themselves fat or pointing out how big they were etc. I think people sometimes don’t understand that by flippantly expressing their insecurities out to the world, they could very well be screaming out someone else’s. I think the cure is to just be a bit more mindful of your words, as you never know how someone else could be feeling about something you’re talking about in a negative or positive way, Ie ‘I need to look good for this wedding so I’m on a new diet’ or ‘I’ve lost 6lbs this week I’m SO happy!’ etc.

Q: Has becoming a parent changed the way you think about your body?

A: Motherhood has made me realise that I cannot continue to talk about myself and my body in a negative way. Especially around my children. I don’t want my children to ever feel bad about themselves because I’ve made it normal to hate my legs because they’re so big or make them want to cover up in summer because they’re embarrassed of their arms, like mum is. I don’t think I’ll ever be insecurity free - who is? - but I will do my absolute best to not project any of my insecurities on to my own children or any other susceptible little mind out there.

Q: The Re-Write The Story campaign hopes not only to act as a reminder for people to be careful how they speak about their bodies around children, but to encourage a more inclusive range of bodies in children's media and books. Will you be extending your self-love mantra into your family bookshelf?

A: Definitely! I already find myself looking for books that feature an inclusive variety of bodies for my son! Sadly though, there just aren't enough out there. You have to really look for them.

I think they should be as popular and available as any other book with a character, so it gives children an honest and real representation of people in real life. I think if these kinds of books were more available, my son would stand the best chance at growing up to be non-judgemental of not only himself in his own body, but towards others too, as books play such a massive part of a child’s life growing up!

My Mum's a Tiger is the award-winning picture book that normalises stretch marks as well as encouraging children to celebrate what makes them unique and love the skin they're in. Find out more and order your copy here!

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