“Oh, Jeidi, this is such a hot topic with me. I still remember what I was wearing (a black and white striped off-the-shoulder top of bought for $13 at Goody’s and cutoffs, where I was sitting (in front of the coffee table), and what I was eating (Fudge Stripe cookies) the day my father said to my 13-year-old self, “Darlin’, you sure are putting on some weight there. Little boys don’t like fat girls.” My self-worth took a downward spiral from there and, though I’ve had moments of thinking I’m enough, it is still a struggle at 38 and a size 2. It was a struggle at 36 and a size 0.”
And there it is in all it’s vulnerability.
And it makes me mad and sad that to this woman a moment that was supposed to be a forgettable part of a regular day became a moment etched so clearly, 25 years later, she can paint a picture so clear you feel like you are next to her sharing that dessert.
You can taste the sweetness of the cookie right along with the pain.
Her #1 male role model just linked HER in two simple sentences with sugar, fatness, loneliness, and ugliness.
“Little boys don’t like fat girls.” is a LOADED statement especially to a 13 year old girl!!
- I am supposed to be liked by boys.
- It’s good to be desired by boys.
- If I am not wanted by boys there is something wrong with me.
- Boys don’t like fat.
- I’ll be alone if I’m fat.
- Fat is ugly.
- Fat is shameful.
- I am getting fat.
- This cookie makes me fat.
- Cookies make me ugly.
- I need to stop eating cookies to stay pretty.
- My dad loves me pretty.
What may have been intentioned as just “fatherly advice” is a slap in the face followed by decades of body shame and it’s no wonder!!!
YOU CANNOT UNLOAD THE COMPLEXITY OF BEAUTY STANDARDS ON KIDS!!!!!
They are NOT emotionally equipped to handle the burdens.
And this scenario is, unfortunately, fairly common. The exact details may change, of course.
- A mother commenting on her daughters “thunder thighs” in a pair of shorts while her daughter sips on a coke,
- An aunt who pinches your belly fat warning you “to be careful” as you enjoy a piece of cake,
- A dance teacher unhappy by a girls’ “new curves,”
- or a grandparent commenting on your “filling out” and “plumpness” while you watch cartoons and eat ice cream.
They are all passive aggressive ways a person of authority abuses their power over a child’s mind.
And before anyone gets too far offended or feels attacked, let me be frank.
I’m coming to you as a fitness expert who recognized LATE that her own kids do not metabolize sugar in the easy way we all like to believe kids do… like machines.
I walked into motherhood just blindly accepting the stereotype that all kids can just eat bags of Skittles and chips and they’ll just burn it off no problem. Sure, I would teach them to eat their fruits and veggies too, but here… eat the pizza and the chips and have some dessert, it won’t effect you.
Nope. Wrong. Not my kiddos. Not their metabolisms.
So a few years ago, I took them to the doctor for their yearly check ups and their weight was increasing at a rate that did not match their height. My kids are big kids, btw. TALL AND DENSE. And I say that with UTMOST PRIDE!!! They usually tower over their friends and their bodies are naturally built for power. Their legs have an impressive amount solid muscle. Moving them out of your way or picking them up is an athletic feat.
And so, I have not ever expected my son or daughter to weigh what their classmates weigh. They are oftentimes two years ahead on the height scale so if my kids are as tall as an 8 year old (which is how tall they are as 6 year olds) then I’m looking for them to be within the 8-9 year old range.
When I saw the data in front of me on the day of their check up, it was undeniable. My kids’ weight was not only significantly above their height range, but if I allowed to continue there were real problems ahead.
What I know now that is unique is that I did not take the information and feel as if it was a reflection on me as a good or bad parent. This was not my yearly report card. It was data about my children’s current and future health. It’s to be taken seriously as a medical issue not an emotionally charged one.
I went back the following year and Dr Laue, their doctor, was downright impressed.
My kids had NOT LOST OR GAINED A SINGLE POUND in a year but had grown their standard 3-4 inches. They had both literally maintained their weight from last year (which was my goal) while growing.
I beamed with pride b/c the changes I made were easy, do-able, repeatable, and non-intrusive on their lives.
Becoming beautiful or desirable or losing their “lovability” was a NON-ISSUE in this matter.
Never brought up.
Not for a moment did I ever equate for myself or to them the idea that they are ugly at one weight and beautiful at another.
Making sure their height and weight was more evenly matched had NOTHING to do with what they looked like, how others perceived them, or how proud I was to their mother!!!!
It never even occurred to me to ever “motivate” my children using guilt or humiliation!
And so in expressing my concern in how parents handle their child’s weight, understand, I’ve lived it. I took on the important responsibility of finding what nutritional and physical balance meant for my kids’. And it was a journey not of deprivation or faults.
And so in Sweat Unfiltered, my weekly newsletter, I’ll be detailing:
- what exact changes I made in my own house to SLOWLY get my kids’ weight back on track,
- what we continue to do to this day
- how we talk about food around the kids, and
- how we encourage daily activity.
- I’ll also be discussing how you should be approaching health topics (if at all) with adult children you may be worried about.
Because if physical health is truly at the root of your parenting intentions then you must also accept that your child’s mental health is a NON-NEGOTIABLE part of the deal!!!!
You cannot trade one for the other.
Happiness is NOT MEASURED on the scale!!!!
You can join the newsletter here.