You may be promoting unhealthy eating habits and eventually obesity by teaching your overweight child that she’s perfect just the way she is.
• This isn’t about body shaming.
• This isn’t about demeaning a child.
• This isn’t about thinning out a child’s self-esteem.
So don’t even go there. Instead, it’s about being more mindful of what you say to your overweight child so that she doesn’t think it’s okay to have a junk food diet, be sedentary and be hefty.
“You’re Perfect just the Way You Are”
When this statement is meant to refer to the child’s inner self, to encourage socializing and speaking her opinions, to encourage questioning something that doesn’t seem right, to report a “bad touch” and any other perceived infractions committed by adults against that child – then by golly, keep making this statement to your daughter (or son).
But it’s a whole new animal when a very plus-size Instagram influencer tells her overweight young child she’s “perfect” just the way she is – referring strictly to her body. Yes, TO HER BODY.
I was inspired to write this warning to moms – who’ve become transfixed (and possibly confused) by the body positivity movement – after reading an influencer’s Instagram post.
This 265-pound influencer (yes, she’s posted her weight) has a noticeably overweight young daughter.
Mama reports that her daughter has gotten very upset when classmates call her “fat,” yet at the same time, this influencer claims to continuously preach how the girl should accept her overweight body, not try to change it, and that’s she’s perfect as is.
So if the young child continues to get upset when classmates call her fat, this means that Mama’s approach isn’t working.
An Overweight Child’s Body Is Not Perfect As Is
This can be a gateway to adult obesity, including morbid, not to mention an impediment at excelling in sports.
Never mind how she looks in the prom dress. What about athletic performance and the ability to run fast?
Just what did the body positive influencer say?
At the time of this post she has 193K followers and has partnered with Dove. To paraphrase her:
“The future shines bright for you, my dear daughter. To stand before the mirror and see that every inch of you is perfect just the way it is. You are able to see on TV or in a magazine images of women and girls who look like you and haven’t been digitally altered.
“Times are changing and I’m very thrilled to be part of all the positive things going on to ensure our next generation grows up with high self-esteem.
“That’s why I’m so eager to continue to partner with @Dove on their #ShowUs and no digital distortion campaigns.”
Am I the only one who sees just ONE message between these lines?
That message is this: What a girl/woman looks like is more important than anything else.
What’s wrong with that picture?
A lot. It promotes the concept that women are first and foremost ornaments, sexual objects. Never mind the brains and creativity. It’s all about the body, how they look.
To the moms out there, do you really think encouraging your chubby daughter to wear shorts and two-piece swimsuits is more important than encouraging her to read books about astronomy, dinosaurs and developing musical and athletic skills?
It’s like, gee, to hell with the bleepity bleep miniature bikini. Wouldn’t it benefit her self-esteem and confidence a ton more to dress her up in a karate uniform and sign her up for karate lessons than to keep taking pictures of her in a scant bikini?
Martial Arts for Children of All Sizes Encourages…
• Self-discipline, reduction of temper tantrums
• Self-esteem and self-confidence
• An anti-drug, anti-smoking mindset
• Improved concentration and goal-setting
If it’s not okay for a dog to be overweight, why is it okay for a child to be?
“You are perfect just as you are,” when referencing the body, is a cryptic way of promoting obesity, because many obese adults were overweight, chubby or plump as children.
It’s one thing to assume your child will outgrow her plumpness.
But this particular influencer has told her followers that she routinely tells her daughter that her BODY is perfect just as is, and that no child should ever be put on a diet (as in, portion control and fewer calories from junk food).
This innocent child uses thigh-chafing cream and has a “gut.” Her excess weight has even affected her face; it’s quite plump and round. She’s in second grade!
Are you a binary thinker?
People who have a binary way of thinking will believe that the only alternative to this Instagram influencer’s approach is to body shame the young girl.
Mama doesn’t have to say ANYTHING to this child about her weight. All Mama needs to do is encourage healthier eating, discourage overeating (e.g., lock up the junk food, monitor portions at dinnertime and have only fruit available for unsupervised daytime snacking), and enroll the child in some kind of sport.
Though sports involvement doesn’t guarantee trimming down a pudgy body, a sport that involves a lot of aerobic activity may encourage the child to eat healthier and more mindfully.
As she gets older and wiser she’ll realize that a non-overweight body will improve sports performance.
All of this can be accomplished without body shaming or demeaning the overweight child.
“I love you just the way you are,” is NOT the same as, “Your body is perfect just the way it is.”
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.