I’M FAT BECAUSE MY LEGS TOUCH WHEN I SIT DOWN were words recently muttered by my boyfriends daughter. I was shocked and appalled to even hear those words slip out of her mouth, and quickly reassured her that it’s normal; it happens to everyone. Why would she think this? Why would an 8 year old have a concept of “skinny” or “fat”?
That really got me thinking; It’s me. It’s her dad. It’s other family members. It’s shows she watches on TV. It’s kids at school. It’s advertisements or commercials. It’s constant diet culture and media being shoved down all of our throats.
I am guilty of body shaming myself in front of her, I’ll admit that. But I’ve never stopped to think what impact that would have on her, or other young people. Since that day, I’ve been making it a point (and also reminding my boyfriend too) that she shouldn’t be taught that looks are everything. Yes, we can all agree she’s cute, but she shouldn’t rely on that fact - physical looks are fleeting but good character is what builds success. I want to show her that being strong is healthier than being skinny, and that being a good human is more important than being pretty.
I’ve actively tried to limit my “you’re so pretty” “you look cute” compliments (for everyone, not just her) and change them to “you look strong” “you are kind” “you are smart” “you have a compassionate heart” I hope that I can teach her to love her physical self, and that shaming someone else for looking different is never okay. Its not about wearing the prettiest clothes to school, or being the most popular, or being the slimmest or tallest. It’s so important to teach the younger generations that they are so much more than a cute outfit, pretty face, or number on the scale.