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> back to eNewsletter Past Issue List
This issue will take about 3 minutes to read. Issue #06
Do It for the Children

Do It for the Children

If sometimes you feel bad about your body and you make negative comments about your body in public then you are having an effect on the people around you ? some of those people are children. If self-acceptance and healthy living are very difficult problems for you, you may find motivation from this awareness. Think about the children in your life. Are you a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, teacher, coach, nurse, doctor, or friend to a child? Are you a public figure who children can see or hear in the media? Then the way you think, what you say, how you live, affects the children in your life too. Perhaps you can find some motivation to take better care of yourself because it will help them.

For many people who have battled their weight all their lives, the fear that a child who they care about may suffer from an eating disorder is very real. When a child gets an eating disorder, it is not the "fault" of the adults in his/her life. Eating disorders are complex, and your role as and adult who effects the child is just one of many factors. Yet the question remains: "What can I do, as a parent, an aunt, a teacher, a coach, a nurse or doctor, to decrease the likelihood that I will contribute to the problem?" You can do plenty.

You can either contribute to the problem or the solution. The choice is yours. I will mention some common sense steps you can take. These steps are not simple to implement, but your efforts will be worth it for you and the children who you effect. There are volumes written on the subject of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. Here are some thoughts and suggestions I can offer:

  1. Pay attention to your own behaviors, attitudes, and feelings about food and body image. Clean up your own act. Kids learn from what you DO more than what you say. Begin eating for health, NOT to change your body size. Enjoy regular exercise because it is fun and feels good, NOT to shape your body.
  2. STOP making negative comments about your own body or other people's bodies. Learn self-acceptance and body size-acceptance. This is a difficult process, but it is worth your effort for yourself and your children. As you go through the process of healthy living at any size, the children in your life will learn that process from you!
  3. Don't let fat jokes go unchallenged (you would not let racial or religious slurs go unchallenged). Speak up to the kids in your life. Speak up in front of the kids in your life. Write letters together to TV shows and advertisers who make fun of fat people. The media exalts thinness and portrays fatness as horrible, funny, and disgusting. Children who succumb to eating disorders and body loathing have come to believe these narrow stereotypical portrayals and will do harm to themselves in order to attain the ideal body size and avoid fatness. Teach the kids in your life that people of all sizes deserve respect. You will be teaching them to respect themselves, whatever body size is natural for them.
  4. Teach children to appreciate the beauty in diversity. We can be part of redefining beauty for children, appreciating all sizes, all ages, and all ethnicities. This leaves room for children to appreciate him/herself, whatever size, age, or ethnicity he/she is.
  5. Take a look at your own heritage. Work at preserving the healthy eating and self-acceptance that has been passed down to you. Children of different ethnic backgrounds have different views toward food, eating, and body image. Be active in promoting the positive attitudes toward people of all sizes that are present in your ethnic group. Notice the hurtful behaviors and fat-phobic attitudes that you have inherited also. Be active in letting go of these negative attitudes about fatness.
  6. Now, take a look at other ethnicities. What self-accepting and self-esteem boosting attitudes and norms would be good to adopt? When you and the children in your life embrace the diversity of other people and customs in the world, you teach children an expanded worldview. They will learn to appreciate the differences in people and the value of uniqueness. They will be less likely to fall victim to the tyranny of thinness or any one ideal of beauty.

Just as there are different attitudes toward body size, there are different foods and attitudes toward eating in different ethnic groups. Which foods are more nutritious? Which attitudes are more self-accepting? Explore and enjoy the helpful attitudes and foods with the children in your life. Talking is good. Learning is better. Go to the library and attend fun cultural events. Doing is even better. You and the children in your life can plan and cook foods that other people enjoy. Experiencing diversity teaches acceptance of the uniqueness in other people. When uniqueness is valued, children have more room to value what is special and unique about themselves, even their body size.

This is a three pronged approach to helping kids feel better about themselves:

  • Clean up your own act. Change your mind about body size and beauty. Kids can tell what you really think.
  • Live healthy and take actions to end body loathing in your life and in the world. Kids learn from what you DO more than from what you say.
  • Expand your view of beauty to include all sizes, ages, and ethnicities. Kids learn their aesthetics from their environment.

Appreciating diversity lets children have room to appreciate themselves as unique individuals. Help children experience eating and attitudes outside of your normal pattern. Expand children's choices for healthy foods and new attitudes about body image. These are just some ideas to the prevention of eating disorders. There are many ways to approach this important topic. None of this is simple. Some of it is fun. All of these processes are worth your time and effort. The pay off is not only a healthier you, but children in your life who are less likely to develop an eating disorder and like themselves better.

Take Care,
Kelly Bliss
Toll Free 877-KellyBliss (877-535-5925)
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