Whether you call it fat shaming or body shaming, one thing is clear: nobody should feel shame over their weight, clothing size, or body shape. And while you’d never intentionally say or do anything to make your girl feel too fat, too big, too anything—the sad truth is that more than half of girls in first through third grades think their “ideal weight” is less than their actual weight. You read that correctly. Six-year-old girls aren’t just aware of their weight; they think there’s something wrong with it.
Where are girls getting this body shame from, though? Despite the fact that you’d never, ever directly shame your daughter in any way, a lot of behaviors she sees in the grownups in her life can indirectly make your girl second-guess herself or see herself in a not-so-flattering light.
Basically, if you’re covering up your curves, staying out (or standing in the back) of family photos in an attempt to hide yourself, making disparaging jokes about your body, or even calling a pair of pants your “fat jeans,” she’s picking up on it and will likely view her own body through that same hyper-conscious lens.
It really is a problem. So much so that one in four kids say comments from their parents have made them self-conscious about their bodies. Even more depressing? Feeling shamed by parents actually makes kids more susceptible and sensitive to body shaming from others in their lives.
It’s a sad—and in some cases, dangerous—state of affairs. Girls deserve better. Families deserve better. We all deserve better.
But how can we end the cycle of fat-shaming if we don’t even realize we’re part of the problem? It’s easier than you think, and it starts at home. Here are five ways to combat body-shaming:
In other words, pushing yourself to put on that bathing suit for a splash at the local pool, making sure family pics include your fabulous self, and adopting the air of confidence you want your girl to have about her body (even if it doesn’t come naturally to you) are all super awesome things you can do for your girl. Bonus? Over time, some of this pretend positivity might just become the real deal—helping you heal yourself and lift up your girl at the same time.