When I was growing up I struggled with the way I looked. I thought I was fat and this thought led me down the path of trying to starve myself in order to feel better about myself.
I somehow thought that if I could loose weight, I would become a different person. A better person even, but it doesn’t work like that because even if you lose weight, you’re still the same person you always were.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that I wasn’t ever fat as a child. It was all in my head. However, when I did lose weight I used to enjoy the compliments I got from others. People would tell me how skinny I looked and I loved hearing it. Some people would say that I was too skinny, but I took that as a compliment, and if I’m honest it was those sorts of comments that spurred me on to loose even more weight. I thrived off it.
You see, any comment on physical appearance, whether it be positive or negative would always leave me wanting to loose more weight.
That brings me to today. As a mother of girls, I want to raise confident, caring and kind children. I want them to be strong-willed and I want them to question things they don’t believe to be right.
This is something I never did as a chid. I was, and still am, very much a people pleaser. I strive for approval from other people because I want to be liked and I want people to think good of me.
When my children look in the mirror, whether it be to be brush their hair or check that their clothes are smart, sometimes they’ll comment on their appearance. It might just be something about the way their hair looks for example, but it made me wonder if it’s ever ok for a parent to pass comment on their child’s appearance?
I don’t think I would ever pass comment on my children’s appearance in a negative way unless it was obviously because of health fears.
If my children were a little on the chubby side, or a little on the skinny side, I probably wouldn’t say anything. However if it was clear that they were obese or heading towards anorexia, then yes, I would feel a need to comment out of caring for them.
It’s a difficult decision to make. If you say something then you obviously risk upsetting your child or worse, you could push them to the extreme where they loose too much weight or put too much weight on, but then again if you say nothing you could be missing an opportunity to help them.
By raising children to eat well and exercise then we’re doing the best that we can for them as we’re teaching them how to live sensibly.
The problem however, is that young girls are regularly targeted in the media for having to look a certain way, to dress a certain way and to be a certain size. The pressure on young children today is so much more extreme than when I was a child.
I found this article online a very interesting read. Especially this paragraph:
“Harsh comments about weight can send the message that parents are “tying weight to some kind of perception about how the child is valued,” Dr. Puhl said, and that can trigger negative feelings. “The children are internalizing that, and thinking they’re not O.K. as a person. And that is what’s leading to other outcomes, like disordered eating.””
The impact of your words and how they’re perceived by the recipient can be devastating. Without realising it, you could end up doing more damage than good. It’s certainly a fine line that has be tread carefully.
What do you think? Would you ever comment on your child’s appearance? Let me know in the comments below.