Yesterday we had a work function with my husband and his colleagues. He is the regional manager at the office so people are quite polite and almost formal with both him and me and the kids. So when one of his employee’s came up to greet me and the children, I was shocked to find out right after that she had whispered in my daughter’s ear, “You are fat…”! You should have see the look of total hurt on my lovely daughter’s face. Needless to say, I was pretty angry. But then remembered how different our cultures are. She comes from the Philippines and although I am not sure why something like this would be said to anyone, especially a child, I don’t think she said it from an evil or hurtful place – I think saying something like this is pretty common.
But I had to deal with the situation. I found an appropriate time and told her of the almost taboo nature of saying “You are fat” to anyone and the heaviness of those words especially to a young girl like Sophie. She was mortified and super apologetic to both me and Sophie.
Ugh, so major drama. We hear about little kids as early as 10 (if not earlier!) fixated on their weight, wanting flat stomachs and refusing to eat. That scares me to the core, as it does all parents. So I took this as an opportunity to talk about body image and self love in a new deep way, which I think was a blessing. Some of the things we talked about were:
- Normalized her situation We talked about how she is still growing and her body is changing all the time. And about both my sister and I went through fluctuation in weight. I showed her funny pictures of me and my sis looking ah well…awkward to say the least!
- Trends in society I told her about small girls being fixated on their weight, how they see themselves in their thier bodies, but that she is so much more than her body. She is both body, mind and spirit and all three are just as important. Oh and all that not eating crap will not be tolerated in my house. Hard core maybe, but I want there to be no room for even entertaining these morphed ideas of body perfection. She is already perfect just as she is. I am not just saying that to make her feel good, it is the TRUTH.
- Importance of food and nutrition As a child, I never learned why food is important – not in terms of my the health of my own body. The different types of food, like protein and carbs and how they contribute to your health and wellness. She wanted to know more about how all this works and so we got online and did a little research about for example why protien is important and talked about what food have what nutritional value. She soaked it all in.
- Gratitude We talk a lot about gratitude in our house, but I wanted to get really specific about being thankful for this amazing physical form that we have. We talked about how magical the body is, how when we get hurt, it is immediate and effective and magical in its ability to heal. And we started this morning, doing something that I think is going to have profound impact on my daughter. We both got naked and stood in front of the full length mirror. I began saying 3 parts of my body I loved and why. Then it was her turn. It took some prodding and she was giggly and felt self conscious at first, but she stood there looking at the miracle that is her body and choose the 3 things that she loves the most about her body and why. We agreed that we would do this every weekend. By the time she is a teenager, it is my intention that she will have spent so much time in the mirror telling herself positive statements of self love rather than what the norm is – statements of self-hate, that a healthy body image is default.
It is my belief that as parents of girls, we must start early cultivating positive body images for our daughters. Because if we don’t fill them up with this kind of healthy programing, they will have nothing to believe in than the negative messages that they will surely encounter in the very near future. Our young children as so very impressionable, let’s get active, cultivate confidence and self love in our girls. I am willing to bet that if a young girl has practiced loving her body, appreciating her body, understanding her body, she will not abuse it.
What do you think?