Stop Saying That in Front of My Child!
Updated: Dec 19, 2017
My 4 year old son and I accompanied my mom and her dog to a vet appointment. The dog is a little shy at the vet's, so as the technician was gently pulling her onto the scale to get weighed, she was resisting. And then it happened. The technician said, right there in front of my son, "She's a true lady. She hates the scale like the rest of us." My mom laughed politely, but my tuned-in ear heard the messaging loud and clear. A women's self worth is connected to the number on the scale, our struggle with weight and food is part of being a woman, and it's okay to ingrain this in each other, in our children, and in our society at large.
But it's not. It took me aback, because messaging like this keeps coming at our children, in the same way it came at me when I was a kid- knowing the different diets the women in my life were on, writing out exercise sequences with my friends to 'get fit' in grade 4, and joining in on the latest regime like Fit For Life before I even reached puberty. And I wasn't even overweight. I had no reason whatsoever to be on this track, except that I was female and the expectations and rules were being passed down, as they had already been to the generation before me.
And I hear this stuff all the time. Women and men, parents, friends, teachers, all talking about the latest food trends, 'good' and 'bad' food, with some added self-deprecating humour about their weight around kids. But participating in these filler conversations in front of kids is shaping the next generation's unconscious beliefs of how they should relate to food and their own bodies. They're learning body shame, food rules, and and gender-based weight standards before they've had a chance to have a natural, positive and intuitive relationship with food and their own bodies.
It's no wonder the food struggles stay with us. We're programmed for it. It's deep within us to feel guilt about food, judge ourselves, aim for the 6-pack and then perpetuate the cycle to the younger generations with passing comments like hating the scale. But it's got to stop.
When we acknowledge the role that society plays in our beliefs about ourselves, our weight, and food, we can shed some of the personal-ness of it. We're part of a system that rains junk food from the sky at Halloween, and then tells you you're wrong for eating it. The better we can get at seeing the system, the more power we have to choose differently and stand up for our own autonomy. We're not fools, we're not puppets, we're not here to keep the profits of food conglomerates high and base our self-worth on how much we weigh. We're here to make peace, re-learn our intuitive cues, shed our emotional walls, and model a better way for the next generations.
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