I know. It’s a bold title, but of course its point was achieved and here you are, now diving into this discussion with me.
Thanks for coming by.
If you clicked on this post, chances are your child’s image of his or her body is something that you wonder about; perhaps even worry about. Of course it is. We live in a world where models are photoshopped so that their waists are smaller than their necks; where “plus-sized” is really more like “average-sized,” and diet books sell just as fast as hotcakes. So you see the problem.
I don’t doubt that you are an excellent and conscientious parent. If you’re on this website right now, I wouldn’t even be surprised if you are doing your damndest to make sure that your son or daughter eats healthily and doesn’t obsess about calories, or weight, or what others think of him or her.
You might even know all the steps of how to praise your child or teen’s achievements, their personalities, who they are, rather than what they look like. Focus on health, their happiness, their strength.
But Mom or Dad, if you yourself are obsessed with your appearance or weight, you might just be harming your child.
When I was a kid, I struggled with body image. By the time I was 18, I’d been in treatment for an eating disorder, and throughout my twenties, constantly and obsessively found myself dieting. Often I wondered, where did this even come from? My parents focused on health; I was not often praised for how skinny I was; and it wasn’t until this year, at 30 years old, did I realize: when I was a kid, my mom hated her body.
And so I did, too.
There were plenty of other reasons for my own eating disorder to develop, of course—anxiety, numbing emotions, a need to be seen (and simultaneously disappear), ultimately, addiction…
But growing up with a parent who did not love her body and focused often on weight loss, it seeped into me like an invisible gas. She didn’t talk about weight loss with me; she didn’t give me the Slim Fast shakes. But I was there; and it stuck.
If you hate your body, and if you focus on weight, chances are, your kids will too. I know it isn’t as easy as deciding to up and love your body—but I beg you, parent, don’t pass it on. If you struggle with your body image, make it a priority to help yourself. Because your kids, they’ll pick it up, whether you discuss it with them or not.
Natalie Grigson is an author and illustrator in Austin, Texas. Her latest book, Call Me Perfect, is a story and workbook focused on body image and self-love for kids and teens. You can help support its publication on Kickstarter at www.CallMePerfectBook.com.