[CW: weight loss, eating disorders]
dear mom, i love you—and i know you’re reading this—, but you are one of the reasons why my relationship with my own body used to be (and sometimes still is) quite bad. dear grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and all the other family members, you are to blame too.
dear teachers from primary and grammar school, you are not innocent either.
and it goes all the way back to my childhood.
all of you who were supposed to set a positive example to me as a small, unknowing kid: you failed a lot.
i remember how my mom used to tell me how she hated her body when she was a teenager because she was tall, skinny, and had no breasts. i remember how weight loss/gain would be one of the first things that would be discussed on family gatherings, i remember the razor-sharp slurs shaming one’s food choices in relation to their body types, i remember hearing how one ‘could not wear’ this and that because they were ‘too fat’ for it. i remember my teacher commenting on how much weight i had lost after a serious mononucleosis when i was 12, stating that she used to think i would become chubby, but wow, i was ‘so skinny now’.
i remember it all and i know that it played a huge role in why i later decided to punish my body with only eating a piece of fruit and a low-fat yoghurt each day, and why i still sometimes struggle with my stomach rolls, why i keep on checking the size of my breasts, and why i’ll probably never get rid of the idea that my thighs are too thick.
dear caretakers, i know i cannot blame you. i know you were probably raised the same way, and it’s incredibly internalized in you. you have probably struggled with the same thing for ages.
you don’t want to hate your body, but you do, because you have always been told to.
some of you reading this might already be parents, some of you might feel like becoming one soon.
i am neither, but i do think a lot about how i’d raise a child to make sure they’d grow up as a confident, self-loving person that know their worth. and i am sure about one thing – no body shaming will be allowed! i don’t want to ruin another life with constant self-monitoring, self-hating, and self-reducing to skin and fat. i don’t want to slam my own or someone else’s body, i don’t want to limit my own or the child’s diet to achieve a certain body ideal, i do not want to put the food blame and guilt onto anyone else.
many don’t realize how much trouble can a single word, or a single, scathing sentence to be precise, cause. but, really, words are sometimes more harmful than thousands of actions.
i’ve read a bunch of articles on the topic, which helped a lot in identifying what and how those i used to look up to managed to damage my own sense of body measures, but also in getting some tips what to do to prevent doing the same mistakes.
here’s a small list:
1. do not slam your own body
2. do not negatively comment on your child’s body (changes)
3. do not laugh at, despise, or shame in any other way other people’s body
4. do not praise ill-conceived weight-loss diets, do not force yourself or your child into them
5. do not set ‘ideal’ body types, rather teach about the beauty (and importance!) of diversity
6. do not present physical activity as a way to lose weight
7. do not let others to shame you, your child, or anyone else
+ encourage body positivity, of course!
here are two more articles i found really helpful:
“Want to Raise Your Kids with Positive Body Image? You’ve Got to Avoid Doing These 4 Things (And Try Some Others Instead)” by Ellen Friedrichs
“9 Common Mistakes Parents Make About Their Kid’s Weight” by Judith Matz
just remember – if you don’t try to overcome your own body shame, how can you stop others? i know it’s goddamn hard, but we all can at least try.