In today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with images of reedy, slender, gaunt, and I would even go as far to say “meager” looking models. For normal people, I mean those of us who don’t have 5’10″ and 115 pounds written in their genetic makeup, we have to strive to be something we aren’t, which in all reality will only happen if we do something unnatural. For example, binging, purging, overexercising or starving yourself. Unfortunately, the summer before my Freshman year in High School, I fell culprit to this “messed up” way of thinking.
For 8 years I struggled with an eating disorder. Then when I got married and my husband I were trying to get pregnant, that was the first time I really did something about it. Through counseling, I came to the realization that I was defining myself through being thin.
I know many times when I’m eating healthy, working out, and feeling good about myself, I will turn the tv on to The Bachelor or Survivor, just to see girls in scantily clad bikinis (some of them make it so obvious they are there only to show themselves off). It often makes me doubt myself, again. Obviously, monitoring what your kids watch will make a huge difference. I know one thing my mom implemented when I was a teenager, was to not have fashion magazines around the house. She didn’t want us to think we had to look like those models or that looking that way was more important than being a good person.
I think parents have a huge influence on how their girls (and boys) view how they look at themselves. I have a friend who’s father-in-law is constantly commenting about womens bodies in front of his own daughter. She is very self conscious about how she looks and her body. She has also struggled with a weight obsession. What’s a young girl to think if her OWN father is emphasizing what is ideal in a woman’s body?? Much of a daughter’s self-esteem comes directly from her father. Father’s need to let their daughters know that it is more important to be kind, to be smart, and happy then to look “the part”. He needs to make sure she knows that she is important and loved by him, a man. It helps her to realize there really are men out there that will love her for who she is and know that she is special too…just like her daddy.
As a mother, I have to be careful about what I say about my body. If I’m constantly saying how “fat” I am, how I need to lose weight, if I’m feeling ugly, etc. Halle will pick up on it and think, “mom says that, it must be true about me too”. I try to tell Halle one thing a day that I like about her. But I don’t always comment about how she looks. I tell her she is a great helper, that she is smart, or great at painting, how I love her curly hair and she lights up!
Dying To Be Thin by Ira Sacker and Marc Zimmer. $12 Amazon.