I am the mother of a beautiful young girl who just turned seven this year. Being seven, she is still a very small child, yet, despite this, the other day she tells her father that she is ‘fat and needs to lose weight’! Having a daughter, I assumed that one day she would have body ‘issues’; you know, the typical teenage drama of growing into her body and adjusting to life as a woman after having become accustomed to living in a child’s body. But never did I imagine that this would be happening at the ripe old age of seven!! First of all, she is a very active child; not only that, but she eats well and is at a good weight for her height. Second of all, she’s ONLY SEVEN!!! I don’t remember even thinking about my weight when I was that age! I do remember as a teenager and a young adult being very worried about gaining weight and, yes, I employed some bad habits and made some bad choices regarding eating and weight control; I don’t think that I am any different from any other girl out there. But, it breaks my heart to see my daughter potentially heading down that path. I want her to know that she is beautiful no matter what! As I have grown, I have realized that I like my soft spots and rounded edges. I love having my kids cuddle up to me and tell me I’m soft and lay on me like a pillow. That being said, I am also very healthy-minded; I try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week, I eat (mostly) good foods, get regular checkups, and take care of myself. I want to be around for years and years-I have already told my children that I want LOTS of grand-kids, and when they arrive, I want to be able to get on the floor and play with them!
I think that so many people are obsessed with a false idea of perfection-we idolize celebrities and models that aren’t representative of reality. I keep reading stories in which people are heralding Christina Hendricks (who is beautiful, by the way) as this perfect beauty icon because she is “larger” than traditional celebrities-but, folks, she is still smaller than most of us!! Also, I just read an article the other day in which Miley Cyrus felt the need to explain that she is happy she has gained weight. The pictures accompanying the article showed a normal teenage girl, in fact, she is smaller still than most of the girls I see at Wal-Mart every day, and none of those girls would be considered large, either. This is what our daughters are up against. This is just another form of bullying; criticizing someone for their looks, size, weight or shape. We need to teach our daughters that it’s not about weight, it’s about being healthy; doing what’s right for YOUR body and taking care of YOURSELF-not trying to live up to someone else’s idea of what the “perfect” person should be.
We sat Mae down and talked with her at length about body image and weight and emphasized healthiness and confidence. I think she’s going to be fine…we’ll keep talking with her as she grows; I feel she is very receptive and will have no problem being comfortable in her own skin as she grows. Parents have a huge role in the way their kids feel about themselves, so I hope you’ll take the time to discuss this with your kids, in fact, here is a link to an article about this on Yahoo if you’re interested.