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I’m Amanda Stokes.

I am a mother, an educator and mentor in the field of inter-generational body acceptance and positive self image. A champion of raising strong daughters.

 

As the founder of the Mirror Movement™, I specialise in working with mums who want their pre-teen daughters to feel confident about their bodies, yet who are themselves trapped in a cycle of body dissatisfaction and shame around food.

I support mums to become positive role models for their daughters during the most developmentally important, and impressionable, pre-teen stage of their lives.

As a long-time educator and counsellor working with primary school kids and adolescents, I’ve seen girls, even as young as 5, talk about being fat. I have witnessed the damage low self-esteem around body image can have on pre teens. Studies show that by 9, their self esteem has peaked, so by the time school offer programs around positive body image for teenage girls, it’s too late.

It is my belief that true change must come from the home, and start early.

I want us to stand up for our daughters, and to help them have the start we might not have had ourselves. This is the story of my battle with an eating disorder and negative body image, and how it started with the subtle, unconscious messages I received in childhood.

I don’t believe I was ever taught to love my body as my mother struggled with her relationship with food. She was always either on or off a diet. When she was off a diet, there were always lots of treats around the house, some hidden in her room. When she was on a diet, the freezer was filled with frozen diet meals that I would sometimes eat too.

I have vivid memories of my mum’s “all or nothing” approach to food and dieting. One minute, our pantry resembled the confectionary aisle of Coles and next minute Jenny Craig filled the fridge.

As a young person I remember being really embarrassed by how mum looked when she was at her biggest. I vowed never to end up like her.

As a result of living with my mother’s battle with food addiction and weight issues, I developed my own 20-year binge eating disorder. I had bulimia nervosa, which started after I realised I could binge on whatever I wanted, then purge and not get fat. It felt totally win-win to me.

One of my lowest points was during my pregnancy with my first child. Four months in, I had gained about 15kgs. By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained 30 kgs. Then I discovered low carb, high fat eating and began alternating that with bulimia when I got off track.

One day, I noticed my 6-year old daughter (I have 2 daughters) refusing pasta and only wanting sauce. Then I noticed her eating the toppings off her pizza and leaving the base, all because of my no carb food plan. I knew something had to change. That’s when I made a conscious decision that my family’s inter-generational struggle had to stop with me!

This lightbulb moment, when I suddenly became acutely aware of the immeasurable impact we as mothers have on our daughters, compelled me to develop the Mirror Movement™.

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The intergenerational struggle with body image is real. Our daughters mirror our behaviours because they want to be like us. The change needs to start with us so we can become better role models for our daughters.

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The Mirror Movement™ is a groundswell for change. It’s a conviction that enough’s enough and that positive body image will happen, one mother at a time. We need this movement, and other healthy mind and body campaigns like it, because:

  • now, more than ever, we live in a time where so much of a female’s worth is centred around her appearance
  • we are constantly bombarded with distorted messages that reinforce our ‘bad’ body image and with diets reminding us how we continually fail
  • young children are rarely exposed to real women’s shapes and body sizes, so it’s no wonder they’re confused about how they should look. They are not told ‘you are beautiful’ no matter what your shape or size.
  • this generation of girls is experiencing a world unlike any other, full of photoshopped, unrealistic body images and expectations. It’s a world where their self worth is determined by the number of likes on social media.

Raising strong daughters is one of the most important things we can do. Are you ready to educate your daughter by modelling kindess towards your own body, by speaking positively about yourself and loving who you are?

I believe together, we can change the future, one mother at a time, one daughter at a time

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Positive Body Image Starts in the Home