Just stop it. And start THIS.

I had already started a draft on something like this … but after reading, there is nothing more for me to say.

Lisa and I were at TJ Maxx on Saturday and she was trying on clothes and I was waiting to give the ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ … there was a 9 year old girl with her mother trying on bras. I had seen them shopping and heard the aftermath – the mother and (aunt? I think) were full of harsh and negative body image talk for the young girl. She was a little overweight, certainly … but NO ONE deserves to hear what was said to her.

But after talking to Lisa, it was even WORSE in the dressing room! Calling her fat, and unbelievably fat and gross and they’ll have to do something about how fat she is … and the girl calling herself ‘hot’ (yes, at 9) and … well, it was just like a playbook from ‘negative body image talk that MUST STOP NOW’. It was just really sad…

Anyway, I love Nicole’s post – check it out!

The Girl Who Ran Everywhere

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This week I was in the dressing room at Tj Max and I overheard a couple of teenage girls in the dressing room next to me. This is how their conversation went:

Girl 1:I gained more weight this winter than I thought I did, I look awful in these shorts…like a beached whale.
Girl 2: try this on instead.
Girl 1: I’m so fat! I hate it!! I look awful next to everyone else. I’m never eating again!

In the dressing room at Target the next day…(yeah I know, I shopped a lot this week!)
Girl 1: what are you thinking? I feel like you guys are judging me
Girl 2: we’re not judging you, we’re just helping you shop.
Girl 1: this dress is out, I hate it
Girl 2: we don’t even get to see it on you?
Girl 1

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12 thoughts on “Just stop it. And start THIS.

  1. Sad. I do wonder how parents or doctors best talk to kids about weight. It’s easy as a nonparent to just say have and prepare healthy food at home, and be active as a family, but given that many families aren’t together for most meals (frequently because of economic necessity I recognize), the lack of access to fresh produce in many parts of the country, etc., easier said than done.

    I was underweight until I was about 15 (severe asthma, so lots of work to breathe). I remember my best friend from elementary school was the opposite — always overweight, being put on diets by her doctors and her parents. Her parents had no weight issues, prepared nutritious meals at home (which they ate together as a family), never seemed to have junk food around. But despite all that, she was still overweight. This was back in the days of riding bikes around the neighborhood and being home in time for dinner. I remember how she would save money and we would walk or bike together to McD’s at her insistence where she’d buy fries to eat in secret from her parents.

    • It definitely is a challenge – and I think like all challenges the solution has to ultimately come from within. Which is hard when you’re talking about young kids. And I also have seen kids like your friend – parents had only ‘good food’, and really set a denial-based system, as thouhg forbidding junk food would stop the kid frm wanting it … instead it makes the appeal even stronger!

  2. My mom had nothing but love for me and my body, even though I was chunky as a child. She fed us good, well rounded meals, but also let us make our own choices. That said, it was also the rise of weight watchers, Phin-Phin, and the like, and those led to my own self-critique. But it never came from external sources. It’s funny, any time that I feel “fat” or whatever, I can attribute it wholly to how I feel about myself, never my insecurities as to how others see me–I don’t wonder if other people find me fat. It is kind of like that opinion doesn’t matter as much. And that, like anything else in life, is both a blessing and a curse–I am able to be fine with myself, but sometimes I don’t see things for how they really are.
    I can’t imagine what will happen to that poor child. She may never be able to look at herself in the mirror and just be happy. So, so sad.

    • Very interesting – I think many of us have both internal and external inputs we deal with that feed into our self-image. I personally know I will always feel the impact of external critique as well as my own internal thoughts …

  3. I’m really thankful that I never heard comments like that from family and friends growing up. I was always told how beautiful, smart, funny, strong etc I was–I was showered with positivity, and that has helped combat the societal pressure A LOT. I feel so sorry for kids who don’t have the support that I did.

    • Absolutely … it is shocking to me that we still have that sort of negativity being hurled at kids …

      I am so glad you had positivity growing up – it is SO important!

  4. Wow, that’s so terrible. It’s really interesting that the girl was calling herself hot- as a mechanism to cope with the pain and falsely inflate her self-confidence? If she believes it (even at 9), that’s great, but it just seems like she couldn’t at that age in the face of all the criticism. My heart breaks reading this stuff… And there’s nothing more to say than ‘STOP’ as you both have!

    • I was thinking about the ‘hot’ think more as showing that the girl has a life full of all kinds of negative stereotypes and poor body image messages. Not sure about the reality, but I don’t see it as good either way …

  5. It is a sad world we live in when an adult has to verbally trash a child about their image..instead of downing the child they should be finding ways to help her. I feel bad for that child, she will probably end up with a eating disorder because of the parenting

  6. Those same parents are probably calling the kid stupid if they don’t get grades better than the neighbor’s kid, and poor if they dont get a job paying more than the neighbor’s kid, and on and on. The comparison game needs to stop.

    9 year olds thinking about the concept of “hot” is disturbing. When my daughter was 6, she stopped wanting to go over this one girl’s house. I asked why and she said “all she wants to do is put on bathing suit and practice lounging in a way that will attract boys.” 6 years old, and while I can’t say for certain, knowing that kid’s mom, I suspect she tells her daughter attracting a man will be the best thing she can do in life, rather than encouraging her to find herself and be her own girl-someday-woman.

    • That is weird with the 6 year old … I wonder what sorts of messages she is getting indirectly from other interactions in the household as well. Ugh – scary!

      And you’re probably right that they are calling her stupid as well … neighbors of Lisa’s parents used to hurl all sorts of those names at their kids … it was shameful and awful to hear when we were visiting.

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