At the age of 8, I remember critically examining the size of my legs in comparison to my friend Lisa’s as we sat in the grass cross-legged and bare foot. I remember noticing my legs were bigger than hers. And I remember that this bothered me. I even remember the sensation of bodily anxiety that this brought on.
How does a little girl at the age of 8 feel shame about the size of her legs—or even get the idea to compare them?
I can’t give you a definitive answer for every girl or boy, but for me I know it came from growing up with a constant background sound about weight. In my family thinness got you praise, and being overweight carried shame along with it.
I don’t believe that individuals in my family knew that their commentaries about weight would be hurtful. In fact, I’m sure it was simply part of the way they were brought up themselves. But whether people have good intentions or not, these types of remarks about weight can be harmful.
Because of my own experience, and because it is obvious that there has been a dramatic rise in incidences of eating disorders in young children, I think it is so fantastic that Michelle Obama has stepped up to the plate to discuss how to talk to—or perhaps better said, how not to talk to kids about weight.
“I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don’t want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body — because everybody is different, every person’s body is different — what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be.”
What we say to children about their weight, our weight or just weight in general makes an impact. Bravo to the First Lady for being an excellent role model and for discussing an important topic. Pass on the link below. Post it on Facebook. Tweet it. Talk about it. Let’s set the stage early for children to love their bodies just the way they are.
Link to the Huffington Post article:
Fireside Hangout video with Kelly Ripa:
Other sites that do justice to this topic: http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisinggirls/bodies/weight.html