In such a weight-conscious society, it is hard to understand that one, passing remark might forever change the mental state of a young woman or man. It may be a comment about food, weight, diet, or exercise. For a parent, the comment is innocuous. We make them every day. They are habits we don’t think about, never realizing the harm it might caused to a person predisposed to an eating disorder.
Let me give a few examples:
“I need to lose five pounds.”
“Do these jeans make me look fat?”
“I cannot stand the way I look in the mirror.”
“I need to watch my carbs.”
“I’m starting a low fat diet.”
“I’ve been dieting for a month, but the weight on the scale isn’t moving.”
“That shirt is too tight on you.”
“You’ll always weigh less in the morning.”
“Longer pants would cover your thighs.”
“I’m going to work on my bikini body.”
“I can’t believe I haven’t exercised in a week. I’m going to get fat.”
“If only I could look like her, then I would be happy.”
“I can’t believe I ate that entire slice of cake.”
Do you hear those types of comments, or comments like them? Most likely, these words come out of your mouth. Worse, they are probably made in front of your children.
Bad body image remarks from parents negatively affect the way children see themselves. When these disparaging words come out of the mouths of their parents–the ones the child loves best–they begin to emulate the pattern. Just like Pavlov’s dogs salivate at the ding of a bell, children learn to mimic words and tones about their own body image, from you, the parent.
Whether it is intended, or not.