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.
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.
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?
She had partnered with Dove. Her message is as follows:
“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.”
The message coming through 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 to be looked at. Never mind the brains and creativity. It’s all about how they look.
This means every minute a girl spends focusing on body positivity is a minute subtracted from focusing on her knowledge, opinions, asssertiveness skills, artistic or musical abilities, creative juices, debating skills, ahtletic goals, etc.
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, learn about science, or helping her appreciate classical music or helping her (in a fun way, of course) develop athletic prowess?
Never mind the miniature bikini to help her love her cellulite.
Wouldn’t it benefit her self-esteem and confidence a ton more to sign her up for karate lessons than to keep taking pictures of her in a bikini and posting to Instagram for strangers to see?
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).
Mama even had her daughter, when she was only six, pitching a thigh-chafing cream on Instagram!
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.