Filipino culture is commenting on someone’s weight as a greeting. You might think it’s funny, but it’s not normal to hear people focus on your body and measure your worth and health based on how you look. Especially since we’ve been hearing these types of comments since we were kids.
Our society has conditioned us to think “You’ve lost weight” is a compliment, and that people commenting on our weight is said with love. But also, there are people who straight-up point out your weight gain or your petite frame because you look “unhealthy” in their eyes.
These comments are especially upsetting because society imposes an impossible standard of beauty onto women’s body sizes. They claim you should be fit and sexy to be deemed attractive, and flabs have no place here.
That’s not something anyone should hear from family and strangers, especially young girls who are still figuring stuff out. So instead of placing importance onto one’s looks, we need to be teaching them how to understand and listen to what their bodies need. At the same time, enlighten them on how body diversity works so they don’t call another person “fat” or “ugly” as an insult. It’s time we destigmatize the issue of weight.
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We’ve seen this viral post for years that says “How to talk to your daughter about her body. Step 1: DON’T TALK TO HER ABOUT HER BODY” and we want to push back on that! Don’t ignore her body or the crappy messages she is hearing – call it out! If you worry about kids and how on earth they will navigate the pitfalls of body shame and beauty as the end-all-be-all, we want you to know that we believe in your power to do this successfully! We hear your most pressing questions and we’ve addressed the most popular here (swipe for all of them). ✖️You can shine a light on the soul-sucking messages that reinforce the lie that we are bodies to be looked at first and humans second. Countless outside messages from peers, media, and even family members will make her feel like the appearance of her body is the most important thing about her, but YOU can help counter-act this message in deliberate ways that help her reclaim her body's power as an instrument for her own use, experience, and benefit — not just an ornament to be looked at. 🔥Try these LIFE-GIVING strategies: ✔️Teach her how incredible her body is, regardless of her appearance or ability level. Encourage her to use her body as an instrument for her own benefit and experience in all the ways she feels called to do – as a soccer player, a violinist, an artist, a singer, a gymnast, a leader, a teacher. ➕Treat your own body the same way so she can see that you are first and foremost a woman that knows her body is good for much more than being looked at. Swim even when you are so nervous to be seen. Run after that ball even though you might sweat and jiggle. Raise your hand in that meeting and walk to the front of the room even though it makes your heart pound. ➖Teach her to prioritize her own insider perspective on her miraculous body over any outside view. You've GOT this, and so does she!👊🏼👊🏽👊🏾👊🏿 〰️If you want more guidance, enroll in our online Body Image Resilience Course and share what you learn with girls in your life, watch our TEDx talk with them, and read our latest blog posts through the link in our profile or at beautyredefined.org. #morethanabody #seemorebemore #beautyredefined
More than looks
A Guardian op-ed noted that gender stereotyping affects how girls look at themselves because they feel that people place importance on their physical attributes, not their talents. “Even the most enlightened people are usually surprised when they begin noticing how often they unconsciously reinforce the notion that a woman’s worth is nothing more than the sum of her parts,” author Natasha Devon wrote.
Nonprofit organization Beauty Redefined shared an enlightening post on Instagram on how to talk to young girls about their looks. One of the first things you should note is not to focus on their appearance so much because it creates the idea that she is just pretty or cute.
“Tell her who she is—smart, loving, curious, energetic, creative, articulate, compassionate, talented, etc.,” they said. It’s really all about enforcing that your daughter or niece has a purpose in this world and her looks aren’t measurements for her successes in life.
It’s the same when it comes to body image. When she refers to herself as “fat,” remember not to put value on the word. Remember that having fat doesn’t mean a person is unhealthy, and being thin isn’t equivalent to having optimal health. “The second you respond to her calling someone fat by telling her, ‘That’s not nice.’ You’re teaching her that fat is bad,” Beauty Redefined noted. What you can do is teach her the importance of how fat can help our bodies and how certain features make people unique.
How it positively affects children
She Knows said that introducing the concept of body neutrality to kids at a young age will “proactively guard against the internalization of the ‘thin ideal,’ which is the root of disordered eating and negative self-image.” It also helps them understand they don’t need to go on restrictive diets just because society told them their bodies aren’t acceptable.
“Children focus on caring for their bodies in ways that feel good instead of punishing the body for being ‘wrong’ through restriction, deprivation, [overexercising], etc. By honoring, accepting and having gratitude for their bodies from a young age, children learn to listen to their bodies’ signals, which in turn promotes whole health,” Shiri Macri, Green Mountain program and clinical director, told the outlet.
Learning body acceptance should start from childhood. Let’s stop the normalization of using weight as a greeting, an endearment, or an insult. We are all more than our bodies and our appearances, and our children deserve better in this judgmental society.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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