“It’s funny, your daughter feels so much heavier than mine,” he said, lifting her up.
“That’s because everyone’s different sizes, and you’re so strong,” I quickly said to my four-year-old, completely aware she was listening to every word he said-- and trying to save her from what-could-be a hurtful comment.
Thankfully she smiled back, not thinking much of it.
But this interaction got me thinking.
We’re so diligently protecting our kids from COVID-19 -- covering our faces with masks, and encouraging them to keep six feet apart -- but we don’t seem to be shielding our kids from another pandemic: Body dissatisfaction.
Look, there will always be things we can’t control.
There will be the teacher’s assistant who turns down the cupcake because she’s “getting too fat.”
There will be the Instagram model talking about how she achieved that thigh gap.
There will be that kid on the playground making fun of the other kid because of her “chunky midsection.”
…and the friend who picks up your child and comments about how heavy she is compared to his child.
Unfortunately, growing up in our fat-phobic culture, one day our kids will look up at us with hurt in their eyes, asking, “Am I too fat?”
And gosh we’ll want them to see what we see,
how absolutely perfect they are…
…but maybe they can see what we see.
Since this is a year of reflection, let’s reflect if we’re instilling body resilience in our kids.
…because maybe we can do better.
We, as parents, can choose to lay out a strong foundation by practicing resilience ourselves in the face of diet culture.
To do this, we must practice body acceptance:
…like refraining from saying negative comments about our own bodies.
…like completely giving up dieting.
…like choosing to wear the swimsuit, shorts, or whatever—and never letting our bodies hold us back from things we want to do.
Our children need to know all sizes are beautiful as fact,
so, they can recover in the face of shaming comments.
Because I’m sick of our kids automatically hating their bodies like it’s an inevitable milestone.
It doesn’t have to be…
…it starts with us.
This post originally appeared on the author's Facebook. Her book Living FULL: Winning My Battle with Eating Disorder is available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2O4mJId
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.