Friday, January 23, 2015

The Skinny

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."
~Kate Moss

Yes, the queen of skinny making people (and by that I mean mostly women) feel bad for putting anything into their mouths.

But how about this for a quote:

"One in seven eating disorder patients will die from it." HBO's Thin.

I know first hand about such things and I want to warn parents of what not to do to your daughters. Take it as not from a medical professional or really any authority on the subject except that I lived it.

NEVER criticize their weight or, God forbid, a specific body part. Never tell them it's in their genes to have large thighs or a belly. Never tell them they will always be fat. One day they may decide to prove you wrong and in doing so slide down a slippery slope. Instead always find ways to compliment every attribute you can possibly find. We can make or break our children.

NEVER discuss your own weight and insecurities. Show your daughter you are confident and beautiful in your own skin (obsess in private if you need to). By being a shining example of health and security her own self worth will be greatly improved.

NEVER diet in front of her. If your daughter has a weight problem that is a health issue by all means create a healthy environment but keep it realistic. By cutting out all fat, sugar or anything that, well, tastes good is so limiting they are set up to either become strict calorie counting anorexics or binging (because it's forbidden) bulimics. (There is a story of someone I know who restricted all "junk food" to the extreme for their children. As a teenager their daughter was caught taking half eaten Twinkies out of the school trash can. We always want what we can't have.)

If your daughter does not have a weight problem and neither do you let them see you EAT. Share a plate of fries on occasion or indulge with ice cream now and then. If all they see is you with a garden salad, discussing your next work out and complaining that you're turning into a cow then that is how they will see themselves.

And lastly, emphasize strength, creativity, inner beauty, academics and goodness over how they look in a swim suit, if their ears stick out or if they have developed the preteen belly. Show them why you love them, respect them and are proud of the people they are for just that-who they are. Raise good people who know what to look for in a friend. Raise girls who are compassionate to everyone, not judgmental, critical and cruel. Raise girls with the self esteem to love themselves and see the good in everyone around them for who they are, not what they wear, what size they are or who they hang out with. Raise beautiful girls on the inside and the dynamics of weight peer pressure could change.

I bring this subject up for two reasons.

First: My daughter has a weight obsessed step parent. One that weighs almost nothing, obsesses over running and constantly talks about how fat she is getting. I have tried to ask that this be kept out of conversation around her but I'm told it's not my business.

Second: I battled with anorexia for many years through high school and college. I was down to almost nothing and obsessed with calories and exercise. It's a dark pit that takes not only your strength but the strength of everyone who loves you to get you out. I don't know that any addiction such as that can be overcome from purely one's own desire to get better. Your mind may tell you food is needed and you must eat but every other part of your body will fight it, make it the enemy, tell you that one more bite will ruin you forever.

I've been to hell and back and I feel very confident in saying that. I've been a more than healthy eater starting in my early 20's so there are people who do not live with it forever. But it is hell to get to the other side and that is not something I ever want for my daughter or anyone's daughter to have to discover.

People can be mean, the media is distorted and children let alone adults don't always know how to navigate such confusion. I know you can't protect them from everything but by creating a safe environment at home is a good place to start.

"I'm an actress, I live in L.A., I work in Hollywood. But I've learned that if you're too skinny, they'll say something about it. If you're not skinny enough, they'll say something about it. I just try to feel good in my own skin as much as I can. "
~Jennifer Love Hewitt

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