Summer is in full swing and for folks in our part of the state that often means time on the lake or at the pool. There was a story in the St. Louis Newspaper a couple of weeks ago about the parents of a 7-year-old girl who found that their daughter had a written a diet plan for herself. When the girl was asked by her parents why she thought she needed to diet, the young, all too young, girl responded that she was worried about how she would look in her swimsuit.
I was amazed when I read the story but the more I thought about it the more I realized I shouldn’t be. As a society we tend to glamorize the ultra-thin when we should be recognizing the ultra-healthy. Thin and healthy are not one in the same especially when body image concerns come into play.
Kids, especially young girls, are developing their own self-esteem and their opinions of themselves are drawn from many sources: their parents, friends and family, TV and the movies and pictures on the front of a magazine.
I’m guilty myself, just last week my 4-year-old son described someone as “fat”. He wasn’t being mean and we had a conversation about what’s right and wrong when describing another person. I had to come to terms with the fact that he didn’t invent the word “fat” and since he used it in the proper context he had to have heard it somewhere. I’m hopeful that he never heard me say that word but anytime your child says something they shouldn’t your first response is to assume you’re the source.
It’s too bad as a society we don’t tattoo our blood sugar and cholesterol levels on our forehead. And it’s too bad as a society that we don’t view health in body ability as opposed to body size.
The pretty girl on the front of a magazine is viewed as healthy but what’s not apparent is the airbrushing that occurs to make her “look” healthy. Health isn’t about body type or dress size. Health is about ability and controllable risk factors. If society would focus on health as opposed to size we’d have fewer 7 year olds worried about how they will look in a swim suit.