I was in the car with my daughter and her friend, they are 12, and they were telling me about their lives. It's actually one of my favorite places to really be a listener and avid observer; figuring out what kind of person they are by what they say and how they act when their friends are around.
However, I was shocked when we were discussing friends. Here is how the conversation went (I'm going to name the girls they were talking about as Jane 1 and Jane 2):
My daughter: "Jane 1 is just the sweetest! She will speak our made up language with us and she doesn't care what people think, she is so fun!"
Daughter's friend: "Yea, she is so cool! Jane 2 would never do that because she always has to be soooo perfect."
Me: "You know what? Sometimes that is a sign that someone is struggling on the inside with how they look and how they feel about themselves when they are always trying to be so perfect."
Daughter's friend: "That makes sense, Jane 1 and Jane 2 are ALWAYS talking about how FAT they are, and they so aren't fat!"
Okay...side bar...these two girls they were speaking of are not just blessed genetically but they have little to no fat on them! It hurt my newly, but slowly, put together body esteem heart that these girls are voicing that out loud and they are only 12! It's just sad and disappointing... I know it starts even younger, but this is the first time since I started my journey that it has been openly addressed. Now them calling themselves fat could just be for attention, however, that is also a red flag... why do they need to be told they are skinny and pretty!? Why do they seek that attention? Something is still missing within them if they need to be self-assured by others that they are skinny enough. Believe me when I say this leads down a very slippery slope and is detrimental to still hold onto as an adult.
But if they aren't just doing it for attention and they actually think they are fat... there is a medical name for that which is called - Body Dsymorphic Disorder. Now I don't believe these girls have an extreme case or anything but still...you guys... we need to have a bigger voice of loving and appreciating our bodies the size and shape they come in. We can't let media and social media be the prime voice for what our daughters see and look up to.
Comparing is human nature, but if our girls saw on their social media, and other forms of media, all size body types where these different body shapes are being celebrated and loved, it would at least help them see and accept that one size does NOT fit all and that being unique in personality AND body type is something to be proud of! Introduce them to strong, powerful, well-liked, women and men who aren't just one size.
Okay back to the conversation in the car:
Me: "Why is fat bad?"
Me: "Is fat worse than being mean, bullying, or judging someone?"
The girls: "No"
Me: "Is being fat the same as stealing something, murdering someone, or being dishonest?"
The girls: "No"
Me: "Saying fat is bad you are saying it is in the same category as other things we perceive as bad. Fat isn't bad... it's just fat and every BODY has it and can't survive without it... "
The girls: "That true!" they say in a never thought about that before sort of wonder.
Me: "So the next time they say they are fat ask them why it is so bad... see what they say."
They smiled, we laughed, and the conversation lead us another direction.
This isn't just an issue for girls - this is also an issue for boys - maybe not as dominant but it's there and growing. If you have any influence over children, pre-teens, or teens... start the conversation, give them another point of view.
One of my favorite quotes was said by Marvin J. Ashton:
"If I cannot have peace within me, others around me will suffer..."
Make sure you believe the message inside yourself first, heal your misunderstanding of body types and fat being bad...then help the message so that those around us, especially our children, don't suffer as we and the many generations before us have.