Who’s in your mirror?
I recently wrote an article for Fox News on tips to raising a child with a positive body image. It was a very personal topic for me since I struggled with eating disorders for years, close to 10, and from my very early teenage years. As an adult it breaks my heart when I hear young children talk about not wanting to eat ice cream because it’s going to make them fat or how they would be happier if only they were prettier.
Today I think I’m gorgeous, extra baby weight and all. I’m not thrilled with the stretch marks, chunky legs or my toenail that hasn’t been attached to the nail bed for almost 1o years but still keeps on coming back (that in itself should teach me a lesson in persistence). But I grew an amazing little human and I’m strong enough to carry a 2year old on my hip while doing practically everything. Short and chunky as my legs may be I can back squat 140lbs and run if I have to.
Writing this article opened my eyes to how far I’ve come. I used to know exactly how many calories were in every piece of food that I ate, and how long I would need to workout to burn those calories. I wouldn’t accept dinner plans too late in the day if I thought I had already had too many calories that day. Friday evenings were spent at the gym, if I didn’t work out I wouldn’t go out, and I always wanted to go out on Friday nights so I always had to work out, and easily spend 3 hours there; sweating the entire time. I weighed myself often and then based my mood on what that stupid little number said. It ruined 2 of the best friendships I ever had in college because I was too concerned with my weight than being an honest, genuine friend. That is something I will always regret.
And now I eat butter. And bacon. And I don’t step on a scale unless I’m at the doctors office. It took years to get to where I am today. Literally. And my strongest motivator is that I don’t want my daughter to go through what I did. I never, ever, want her to feel like she’s not good enough because she’s not skinny enough. Our children learn from what they see us do. If they watch us beat ourselves up they’ll think they should too. If you have a bad day because of your weight your child will think they can’t be happy if they weigh more than they think they should.
If you have, or have had an eating disorder think about your children, or future children, going through what you’ve gone through. Set a good example, strive to be healthy, teach your kids how fun it is to be active and play sports. Never talk about being fat or foods making you fat or being ugly. Never, ever talk about how you would be happier if only you lost weight. Be happy now. No matter what your weight. Give your kids the opportunity to have parents that love themselves no matter what, and to learn that our bodies are a thing of beauty because of all they do for us, not because of what they look like. Love yourself the way you want your kids to love themselves.
If nothing else, maybe this very disturbing image will make you more conscientious about the way you teach your children to view food and their bodies.