Summer is here and with that comes the beach, the pool, and all things bathing suits! In my opinion, the beginning of summer is a great time to start a conversation around body image and how my kids are feeling in their own skin. In raising kiddos, I have tried to use body positive compliments but I remember when the word “fat” entered our home. My daughter was 11 years old, came home one afternoon, ran to her room, and was crying while trying to pinch and hold her sides. I guessed about what had happened but wanted her to tell me her truth. A girl at school had been calling her “fat” when she didn’t want my daughter to play with her and the other girls. On that afternoon, she believed it. The other girl’s words had become reality despite my hopeful convincing that it was not the truth. Through our gentle conversation, I reflected with her that this girl may have heard it from someone else that she trusts; a parent, older sibling, relative, or good friend and she believed it. It is often those closest to us that have the strongest pull on our belief system.
After talking to many folks of different age, background, and education level about writing this article, I have found that overall “fat” is still a commonly used word. I have learned that some folks choose to put young girls and boys are on diets around age 10-12 and that our state (Maine) has the highest rate of mental health decline around this age. From my own struggles, I know that how I see myself effects my mental health. It makes me wonder, if we change the narrative we can change those around us! I have seen first-hand that how I speak to my kiddos (tone and words) is how they feel about themselves and project themselves to the world around them. If we start conversation around using body positive compliments and healthy living tools to build our kiddos up, we can make a positive impact on how our children feel and live in the world. Changing the narrative begins with us. Think about how you see, feel, or talk about yourself?
This is a tough topic and it took me a lot of thought and time to write it. It is my hope that it becomes a conversation starter. Listen to how you, your family, and your friends talk about body. The change can start at home with ourselves and our super intelligent, awesome kiddos!
** Disclaimer: I am NOT a mental health professional. This article is an opinion piece only.**