Thursday, June 10, 2010

Instilling a Positive Body Image

So let me tell you about the Blondie family’s big night out. We took Emily on a Tuesday night playdate to the Atlanta Children’s Museum. It was our first time meeting some other families I ‘know” from the internet. It was cute watching the little ones play, and it more age appropriate for Emily this time than our last visit. After we (meaning the parents) were worn out from playing, we decided to grab some dinner together. 

At the dinner table M brought up how she’d gained 4 pounds since her last doctor's appointment, and that the pediatrician recommended curbing her milk intake. M cracked jokes about her “being our tubby little girl” and “having more rolls than a bakery”.

I was truly mortified.

The two of us joke about having a “meaty” baby. People always comment on how “solid” she is.  It’s never bothered us. We know we feed her nutritious foods and well balanced meals. She’s in the 60th percentile for height and weight. She’s a happy, healthy little girl.

* I heart babies with a little chunk.* 

Being at a table with children that were slightly older the Em and more verbal, the situation struck a cord with me. The comments need to stop now. She’s getting to an age where she understands and it’s not appropriate.

Food and weight never an issue in my house growing up, and yet as a woman I am still sensitive to it. I don’t want to put negative thoughts in my daughters head. She’ll have enough outside influences as it is. I want to help build her up so she rises above them.

Have you ever received a comment about your appearance (positive/negative) that stuck with you? What are some ways to instill a positive body image in a child?


  1. This definitely struck a chord with me. First of all, I've always been bigger than all the kids - I'm 6'1" and was the tallest girl in all of my classes, even though I was the youngest. I was never overweight until 5th or 6th grade, but I *thought* I was my whole life because people constantly talked about how "big" I was. My DH had the same problem - he was 13 1/2 lbs when he was born and is 6'9". Neither of our families were good about nutrition or portion sizes, and were pretty befuddled about how to feed either of us. In college I FINALLY figured out how to eat to lose weight and learned to exercise regularly. But all of this started when I was really little and shaped how I see myself, even today. It is sooo imperative that M STOP making comments like that because nothing matters more to girls than approval from Dad. This was an excellent post - thanks for sharing!

  2. Have you ever read the blog: Healthy Tipping Point? The blogger's name is Caitlin and she started a movement called Operation Beautiful that is all about this very topic: (her blog) (her website)
    She leaves post-it notes on mirrors and in random places with positive words on them for women. Kinda cool :)

  3. I was a little chunky when I was in about 1st-4th grade. I had an older brother with friends that would tease me all the time about my weight. I think it had definitely stuck with me. I'm not skinny but I'm healthy and strong..... but still I worry about the size of my thighs, my weight, etc. It certainly does stick with you....

  4. Your daughter is ADORABLE! I remember in high school, I was swimming twice a day and working a few times a week and going to school. I ate like there was no tomorrow. I have an aunt who is and was overweight. My mom would always tell me "If you keep eating like you do you will end up like your aunt!" I hated that and I still think about it today. I think my mom feels bad for saying it but it wasn't very nice. And I still haven't ended up like my Aunt :)

  5. I always struggle with the idea of how to instill a healthy body image. I'm not sure how I would approach it with my children. I would want my children to know that I love them unconditionally, that they don't have to be thin to be beautiful, and that appearances really do mean very little. However, the part I struggle with is, how do you approach the explanation that there is a point when a person is dangerously obese? A couple of my friends have found themselves headed towards health problems from the weight they gained rapidly during and just after college, and I would want my children to understand the dangers earlier in life so they would go into college understanding healthy eating, exercise, and to recognize when they've got a serious problem, not just a few "vanity pounds." I guess the biggest part I worry about is how to explain neither extreme is good, and that what is good is simply being active, eating healthier foods, and being comfortable with yourself.

  6. Brittney- I've been following Caitlin for a few months now. I love her positive message. Kath Eats Real Food and Oh She Glows are two other blogs I enjoy as well. (Although I must say I'm growing quite weary of the Green Monsters an bowls of oatmeal

  7. Thanks Allison :)

    The Girls on the Run program you participate in is fantastic. You're making such an impact in those girls lives.