Saturday, April 2, 2011

Body image and the preschooler

Yesterday, my daughter and I were snacking on grapes when she said to me, "Don't eat all those or you'll get fat."


She's four and not a cruel child, but the remark brought me up short. I have...curves, putting it mildly, but I'm sure I've never said such a thing to her. I've tried not to discuss food issues in terms of being thinner or trying to lose weight, but only in terms of eating more healthy foods, especially since she herself is at a perfectly normal weight for her height and age. So where did she get the idea?

When I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told her, as calmly as I could, that it wasn't nice to say such things, that it was mean and could really hurt someone's feelings. I think she understood, but again, she's four and of the age when the world is entirely black and white and it's okay to say what you're thinking when you think it. (Which I usually admire in her but um...yeah. Sometimes, not so much.)

The remark, though, made me think---about all the things we tell little girls about how they should look and what they should be. Abercrombie and Fitch just got into trouble (again) for marketing push-up bikini tops to seven year olds. I've seen platform shoes and ultra-short skirts marketed to kids Roisin's age and younger. We've done our level best to innoculate her from the worst of things, but I don't fool myself--the pressure from her peers, from society itself, is never-ending. I don't want her to look in the mirror and feel fat or ugly, not ever, but especially not at four. And I also don't want her to think it's okay to be rude to other people, even if she is speaking a literal truth. Sometimes, people are overweight for reasons other than eating too much food and even if they are, it's not her place to say so.

Sigh. There isn't anything like parenthood to make you worry. :)


K.L. Evrae said...

How do I follow your blog? I can't see a follow link. I'm also Pagan and a writer. I've just started blogging again after years away and am looking for interesting things to read daily to inspire my creative mind.

Krista said...

Hey there,

At the bottom of the page, just under the comments, there's a section called "Followers." There's a button there to follow this blog, which you can do so either privately or publicly, your call.

Thanks for stopping by---I'll warn you that I'm somewhat sporadic posting on this blog, but it is very much still active.

Thanks again,

Krista :)

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Wife, mom of a preemie, follower of the old ways, lover of anything Irish or Celtic, history buff, trivia nut, Star Trek and Ren Faire geek and costuming fiend. Offer me coffee or chocolate and world peace is assured. Or at least I'll try really hard. :) I also believe in deleting spam. So, to the person or persons who keep leaving me comments in Chinese (along with links to what I can clearly tell are Chinese porn sites) stop it. It's bad karma, to say nothing of being really, really rude.